LOSING back-to-back in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, both in heartbreaking manner, is more than enough motivation for Calvin Abueva to come out with fire in his eyes when the pro league’s 42nd season formally kicks off next week.
The Alaska star admitted adding extra pounds and getting himself in better shape as he looks forward of finally ending a two-year frustration by winning the all-Filipino title.
While he looked trim in a white shirt during the Alaska fans day on Friday at the Gatorade Hoops Center, Abueva said he has bulked up in the form of packed muscles in anticipation of what he expects to be a physical season for him.
From 187 pounds, the 28-year-old undersized power-forward from San Sebastian is now walking around carrying a weight of 209 pounds.
“Ngayon hindi ka puwedeng magbawas kasi kulang talaga kami ng big men,” said Abueva of the Aces, who let go of veteran Eric Menk and mammoth Samigue Eman during the off-season.
“Siyempre kailangan dagdag din (ng timbang) para makasabay tayo sa mga malalaki (ng ibang teams).”
But more than anything else, the native of Angeles City is looking to redeem the Aces from their harrowing losses in the last two Philippine Cup finals - both at the hands of San Miguel – the last of which saw them botch a commanding 3-0 lead and became the first to lose a championship in such sorry manner.
“Mas gigil kami ngayon. Siyempre naaalala mo pa rin yung nangyari, kaya ang tendency talaga ay makabawi,” said Abueva.
Alaska also lost the title series of the season-opening conference in 2015 in seven games that saw Arwind Santos rally the Beermen from the clutches of defeat by banking in the game-winning three-pointer in the dying seconds of the do-or-die encounter.
Even that is not lost on Abueva.
“Kaya lahat ng ginawa namin this offseason, preparation talaga for the all-Filipino,” he stressed. “Alam mo naman ang all-Filipino, ibang level, ibang laro.”
The Aces are parading basically the same lineup they had the past two seasons, with only Gilas cadet rookie Carl Bryan Cruz the significant addition to the team’s rotation.
But that hardly bothers the ‘Beast.’ Remember Alaska’s mantra of ‘We Not Me.’
“Halos walang nadagdag, pero alam mo naman pagdating sa laro, lagi kaming team,” Abueva added.