Calvin Abueva will have his second game back in the PBA on Thursday, and that will definitely fill up the SMART 5G-powered AUF Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles City, Pampanga with family reunion vibes.
That’s because the do-it-all forward and the Fuel Masters will take on the Alaska Aces, the former team not just of Abueva himself but some of those in the team, including interim head coach Topex Robinson.
“Excited,” the 32-year-old told 2OT presented by SMART Monday night, just a few hours after his first game after 512 days.
Abueva began his PBA career with the Aces, when he was picked 2nd overall by the storied franchise in the 2012 Draft. He immediately made an impact by helping his team bag home the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup title.
The 2013 Rookie of the Year played for the Milkmen until 2018 when he was traded to Phoenix in exchange for Karl Dehesa and a 2019 first-round pick, reuniting him with Robinson and then-head coach Louie Alas.
Alas and Robinson first came into the Dennis Uy-owned franchise in 2017. The champion mentor brought along the latter when he took over the Fuel MAsters’ head coaching reins from Ariel Vanguardia.
Aside from Abueva and Robinson, other members of Phoenix that once served Alaska are current team manager Paolo Bugia and players like veteran center Jay-R Reyes and floor general RJ Jazul.
“Always naman [excited] kapag sila kalaban kasi yung half sa amin galing sa kanila,” Abueva said.
But as eager as he is, it isn’t lost on the Kapampangan cager that they have to go out there and play with a purpose. “Lagi sinasabi ni Coach na maging focus lang sa lahat. One at a time,” said Abueva.
“Hindi naman ‘pag nanalo ka isang beses celebrate ka na para ka ng champion. Hindi. Elimination pa lang ito. Wala ka pa sa goal na gusto mong puntahan kaya one at a time ang ginagawa namin ngayon.”