Calvin Abueva’s return was a box office hit.
The enigmatic forward’s return to the PBA hardcourt during Phoenix’s game versus NLEX drew more than 720,000 online views over at One Sports’ Facebook stream, Monday evening.
The live viewers peaked at 120,800 during the closing moments of the tight game.
The number of viewers just shows how much Filipino basketball fans missed Abueva, who made his basketball return after a 512-day suspension.
When he heard the news, the 32-year-old native of Angeles City, Pampanga felt a surge of gratitude.
“Actually, hindi ko expect na ganun. Pinakita lang sa akin at naramdaman ko ‘yung suporta. Lahat ng mga ‘yun hindi ko binalewala. Pinagsikapan ko ang lahat para makabalik dito,” expressed an emotional Abueva.
Despite the long layoff, the 2016 PBA Best Player of the Conference showed no rust.
The 6-foot-3 utility forward was all over the place, making himself a problem for NLEX. He tallied a near triple-double in his return, finishing with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists.
Moreover, the nerves of steel he possesses, which endeared him to the viewing public, was still there.
With NLEX rallying late, Abueva stopped the Road Warriors in their tracks. He sank his patented floater with 44 ticks left to give Phoenix a 110-107 edge.
Phoenix ended up winning the game 114-110 to raise its slate to 4-2 for solo fourth.