ALASKA Aces coach Luigi Trillo said he won’t be surprised if San Mig Coffee's "hitmen" will be more than physical to his players, especially his gung-ho rookie Calvin Abueva, when their PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinal playoff resumes on May 8.
“We know both teams are gonna be pumped. Alam na namin yun na ... We’re expecting guys to get on Calvin. Alam na namin yun,” said Trillo. “They have hitmen there. It’s no joke. Kasama yun. I expect that and that is what the playoffs are all about.”
The first two games of the best-of-five series have been fiercely fought and marked by highly physical play from both sides, with Game Two ending with accusations made by San Mig star James Yap that rookie Abueva had hit him on his aching back on purpose.
Yap has also lashed out at Abueva's alleged constant "flopping" as well as the referees' failure to discourage it while teammate Marc Pingris has warned that the Alaska rookie will get what he's asking for in Game Three on May 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Abueva was in a similarly combative mood at the end of Game Two, but on Wednesday said he plans to apologize to Yap during the All-Star festivities in Digos City while insisting that the Game Two hit on the San Mig star wasn't intentional.
As it is, Abueva had also endured his share of hits in the series, including a blow to the kisser in Game Two that earned San Mig reliever Leo Najorda a flagrant foul.
Trillo admits Abueva is a rugged player, but insists the former NCAA MVP doesn't play dirty.
“The worry I have with my rookie … Calvin is not a dirty player. He’s physical, he’s rugged, right? Pero yung mga banat sa kanya sa mukha eh,” said the young mentor.
“Iba kasi yung intensity ni Calvin, so they have to get on Calvin. But you know, Calvin knows that. Ang maganda sa kanya, no matter how many times he gets hit … he gets up,” Trillo added.
Trillo bared that he had already warned his prized rookie to be wary not just of Yap, but of other "hitmen" as well.
“We’re gonna tell Calvin. It’s not only gonna be James. I’m sure. You can count four or five hitmen na babanatan siya,” said Trillo.
Pressed for names, Trillo merely shook his head.