HE admits being impressed with Calvin Abueva’s tenacity and passion for the game, but PBA commissioner Chito Salud only has one piece of advice for the hard-nosed player from Pampanga.
“Alam mo napaka-passionate na player niyang si Calvin, skilled and talented pa 'yan. Rookie of the Year natin 'yan. Kaso pinaalala ko lang sa kanya that he should focus on the game more,” Salud told the late-afternoon television sports newscast PTV Sports.
“He has to focus on the game, more than the ‘side acts’ that he is doing … more than the antics. 'Yun, pinaalala ko sa kanya 'yun. At napakabait naman nung bata, kasi nakikinig talaga siya,” he added.
They Said It!
“'PBA ka na. Ibahin mo na ugali mo." - PBA commissioner Chito Salut to Alaska player Calvin Abueva
Salud summoned Abueva and the Meralco pair of Jared Dillinger and Gary David for their roles in a skirmish that marred the Alaska-Meralco game on Friday night. He later handed out fines totalling P28,000, with Abueva getting fined another P3,000 for flopping.
Asked if he sees Abueva going over the boundaries at times because of his aggressiveness and physicality inside the court, the lawyer said: "Sinabihan ko talaga siya na mag-mellow down, kung talagang nagiging sobrang pisikal na siya.
“Napag-usapan din namin 'yun na, ‘Minsan, napapagkamalan ka talagang nanakit on purpose.' And I told him that it is not helping him or his team. And he took it well … Nakikinig yung bata and I’m sure tatandaan niya 'yun,” added the league chief.
Since joining the league as the second pick overall of the 2012 rookie draft, Abueva has been summoned a few times to the PBA Commissioner’s Office due to on-court and off-court trouble.
His most controversial summon so far was when he was caught moonlighting in a barangay league in Bulacan. [For full story, see Moonlighting Abueva summoned by Salud as manager Pineda fumes over escapade]
He was recently sanctioned by Alaska management for missing the team’s practice last Saturday, on the eve of an important match with GlobalPort Batang Pier which the Aces eventually lost, 88-91.
Abueva’s adviser, Charlie Chua, said he too has not been remiss in reminding the former NCAA MVP to tone down his act.
“Hindi ako nawawalan ng pangaral kay Calvin. Noon nga lang nabalitaan ko na nagka-problema siya sa Alaska noong isang araw, pinagalitan ko talaga,” said Chua, chief of staff of Abueva’s manager, Pampanga vice governor Dennis Pineda. “Sabi ko sa kanya, 'PBA ka na. Ibahin mo na ugali mo.'”
“Ganun kasi yun si Calvin eh. Isip bata. Pero tingin ko magbabago na 'yan. Lalo pa ngayon mag-aapat na yung anak niya,” added Chua, while revealing how Abueva’s wife, Sam, is three months pregnant.
“Ilang beses ko talaga sinabi sa kanya na, ‘Pangalawang taon mo na sa PBA. Magbago ka na. Maglaro ka lang, wala ng masyadong ng kung ano-ano.’ Nakikinig naman yun,” said the lawyer.
Asked what he will do in case Abueva doesn’t shape up soon, Chua gave a stern warning.
“Pag hindi siya nakinig? Ikukulong ko 'yan. Bubutasin ko (gulong ng) sasakyan niya para hindi na makalabas,” he said before breaking into laughter.
As for the former San Sebastian star's antics on the court that usually rub fellow players the wrong way, Chua said: “Sa laro kasi, ganun na 'yun eh. Kaya lagi ko rin siyang pinapagalitan sa extra motion nya. Parang kiti-kiti kasi 'yan, very energetic kaya minsan nakasakit talaga kahit hindi niya sadya.”
Despite his tendency to get into trouble, Salud said Abueva has attracted a big following from fans who look up to him as an idol and inspiration.
“That’s what being in the PBA is all about. You inspire and you become role models to the youth, some of whom will play in the league we have come to love for decades,” Salud said.
“Again… Calvin is a good player … but he can still be better!”