CALVIN Abueva made his expected return to the national pool on Sunday when national coach Chot Reyes announced the 12 players who joined the Gilas cadets.
Left out of the national team then under coach Tab Baldwin for the Fiba Olympic Qualifiers last year, the Alaska star was recalled to the team whose ultimate goal is qualifying for the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Olympics.
If there’s one player who can justify Abueva’s inclusion, it was Aces and 2015 Fiba Asia championship teammate Dondon Hontiveros.
“So ngayon, para sa akin, hindi ako na-surprise,” Hontiveros said after the Aces’ win over Mahindra in the PBA Philippine Cup.
“Months before, sinabi ko na sa kanya, even nung event nung launching nung partnership (with Chooks to Go), sinabi ko sa kanya na, ‘Calv, hinahanap ka nila, nandito yung poster mo, dapat nandun ka,’” he added.
Abueva, who registered 18 points, 10 boards, and three blocks against the Floodbuster, had already left the Philsports Arena when reporters tried to reach him.
Asked if it was vindication for The Beast following his exclusion in the last Gilas batch, Hontiveros refused to question Baldwin’s decision, but he underlined Abueva’s significance to the national team.
“Hindi rin natin masasabi kung ano talaga yung plano o set-up nila last time na selection, pero a guy like Calvin importanteng mayroon sa isang team eh,” the former Gilas skipper said.