ALASKA coach Luigi Trillo has assured that enigmatic forward Calvin Abueva will play on Sunday when the Aces attempt to salvage at least a playoff for a quarterfinal berth in the PBA Philippine Cup when they take on Barako Bull.
Trillo reiterated the team line that Abueva sat out Alaska’s 88-91 loss to GlobalPort on Sunday due to a sprain, again declining to talk about reports that the 2013 Rookie of the Year awardee was suspended by the team for failing to attend the Aces’ practice on Saturday.
“He’ll (Abueva) play, that’s for sure. Of course, he had a sprain,” Trillo told Spin.ph shortly after emerging from a 45-minute meeting with PBA commissioner Chito Salud, along with Abueva, assistant coach Franco Atienza and team manager Dickie Bachmann on Tuesday at the league’s office in Libis, Quezon City.
The youthful Alaska mentor said he joined Abueva in the meeting to support his controversial sophomore forward, who was summoned on Tuesday to air his side on the altercation with Meralco’s Fil-Am guard Jared Dillinger during last Friday’s 74-65 loss to the Bolts.
“I’m here to show support for Calvin. He’s getting hit left and right, so I’m just being there for him today,” he said.
Trillo said he also took the opportunity to let Salud know that there had been instances when Abueva gets roughed up during games without the opposing player getting whistled for a foul.
He also hinted that game officials are keeping Abueva from playing his game.
“It’s nice to meet with Com (Salud) because he’s open to hearing us out. My thing is, obviously there’s a lot being said about Calvin’s antics, but this year, and this is my personal opinion, we haven’t allowed Calvin Abueva to be Calvin Abueva,” said the reigning PBA Coach of the Year.
“You know, I just said, 'Call the calls that need to be called and don’t look at the player,'” he added. “This year, guys are throwing him and it’s not a foul.
"So with me, it’s also seeing that you wanna make Calvin just play and not look at the crowd. But at the same time, you need to sanction or make calls on things that need to be called.”
In the end, Trillo expects no less than a hefty fine for Abueva and Dillinger for their brief altercation at the baseline railing during the 10:09 mark of the fourth period.
“Com is always for the best of the league. As a commissioner, you need to go through this. It’s two teams that are very competitive and want to win so when these things happen, sanctions should happen,” explained Trillo.
“But I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. At this point, I came here because the guy (Abueva) is down and you don’t want to kick him when he’s down as he meets with the commissioner,” he added.
Alaska currently occupies the ninth spot with its 4-9 record, while Barako Bull (5-8) will try to get that much-needed win to secure a better quarterfinal placing.