PUERTO PRINCESA - Calvin Abueva is aware of the online furor over the choice for the MVP in the just-concluded 2015 PBA All-Star Game, but was quick to shrug it off.
Not a few fans felt Abueva deserved the award more than North teammate Terrence Romeo after a near-triple double performance that saw the Alaska energizer bunny come away with a game-high 37 points to go with 16 rebounds and seven assists in the 166-161 win over South on Sunday night.
The fans have made their sentiment known online, condemning it as just the latest in a number of awards snubs that have marred the career of 'The Beast.'
“Nakikita ko nga comments nila. Pero para sa akin, okay lang 'yun. Masaya na rin tayo, ” Abueva said.
The hard-banging Angeles City native said any player from the North team deserved the MVP award and the P60,000 prize that went with it courtesy of the PBA and the organizing Rio Tuba Nickel Mining and Coral Bay Nickel Corporations.
In fact, the second pick overall of the 2012 draft came to the defense of Romeo, who he believed provided the spark in the North's comeback from a 17-point deficit.
“Siya rin naman talaga naghabol saka may ilang defensive stops rin siya. Kaya sa akin okay lang 'yun. Sabi ko nga sa 'yo, kahit sino sa team namin nag MVP wala sa akin 'yun, mahalaga nanalo kami at napasaya ang fans,” he said.
“Kaya sa mga fans, sana 'wag na kayo mag-debate. Mahalaga nag enjoy kami (sa game) at nag-enjoy rin kayo.”
Abueva said he has a lot more time to win individual awards in his career.
“Mahaba pa naman career natin, marami pa tayong lalaruang games at conference. Makakakuha rin tayo pag-deserving na tayo,” he said.
North coach Leo Austria, for his part, believed the two players really deserved the plum.
“Hindi ko pa talaga nasisilip ang stats nila, pero deserving naman sila mag-MVP na dalawa and even Japeth Aguilar and Marc Pingris,” said Austria.
“Si Terrence din kasi ang nag-habol sa amin, tapos may crucial three-pointer pa siya. Si Calvin naman, siya ang naging energy guy namin,” he added.
Austria also believes that Romeo’s strong fan base in Palawan and even in other parts of the country was also given weight in the selection.
“May malaking fan base kasi si Terrence, I might be wrong, pero isa rin siguro 'yun sa mga tinignan na ng judges para mapasaya rin ang fans,” he said.
“Pero it works both ways eh. Kung si Calvin ang naging MVP baka ang nagagalit naman ngayon 'yung mga fans ni Terrence,” said Austria laughing.
Meanwhile, Spin.ph learned that Romeo immediately donated the P60,000 cash prize to the bereaved family of PBA technical supervisor Ramil Cruz, who passed away the morning of the All-Star Game.
The gesture was said to have been agreed upon by the team after Austria told his players prior to the game to donate the MVP prize money if the North side won.
Aside from Romeo’s prize money, the players of the North side also chipped in personal money and a fraction of their prizes to the family of Cruz, who were at the Aziza Hotel lobby when the delegation arrived after the game.