Calvin Abueva had just gotten home from Magnolia practice in Batangas when he was notified of the news that Marc Pingris had retired.
And Magnolia’s Beast told Tiebreaker Times that he could not help but lament his missed chance to play with the Pinoy Sakuragi in the PBA.
“Sa akin siyempre, sayang. Napunta ko sa Magnolia tapos hindi pa kami nagabot,” lamented Abueva, who was traded from Phoenix to Magnolia last February 17.
Ever since arriving in Magnolia, fans could not wait for the day the league opens and see both Abueva and Pingris on the floor.
The last time the two energetic forwards were on the same side was back in the 2015 FIBA Asia Cup that saw one of the most beloved Gilas squads finish silver in China.
During the build-up to the event, Pingris, who was 34 years old, had always mentioned that the then-28-year-old Abueva was going to replace him as the heart and soul of Gilas.
Now that Pingris has retired, Abueva knows there’s pressure for him to fill Pingris’ shoes.
“Siyempre kailangan ko gampanan yung responsibilidad ko rito sa Magnolia — kung ano yung mga ginagawa ni Kuya Ping kailangan ko punan yun,” said the native of Angeles City, Pampanga.
“Ngayon mas kailangan ko pa doblehin yung mga iwe-work ko.”
Abueva admitted that he was saddened that he was not able to meet Pingris face-to-face since getting to Magnolia. But the legendary Hotshot made sure to always check on his protege.
“Lagi niya sinasabi na, ‘Nandito ka na sa magandang team kaya yung ginagawa mo, kailangan mo pang doblehan. Eto yung good opportunity na hinihintay mo kasi sa trabahong ‘to, iba yung mundo ng korporasyon na ito. Bigay mo lang yung dapat mong ibigay sa team na ‘to.”
Despite the pressure, Abueva, who was a candidate for Most Outstanding Player during the league’s bubble season, will not succumb to it.
A changed man, the utility forward stressed that just like Pingris, he is willing to do the intangibles in every Magnolia game. Moreover, he is willing to pour his blood, sweat, and tears for his new home.
“Sa akin, go wtih the flow lang sa dapat ko iimprove. Hindi lang naman ako magisa dito. Kailangan namin yung isa’t isa,” the eight-year pro stressed.
“Dun din ako huhugot ng lakas sa kanila. Kaya kailangan ko makipagcoopoerate sa kanila at madiskartehan namin kung ano dapat ko gawin.”