SMART CLARK GIGA CITY — Calvin Abueva made sure to avoid picking up fouls in Game Two of Phoenix Super LPG’s 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal battle versus TNT, Friday night.
In their first game last Wednesday, he already had five personal fouls in just the first three quarters. This time, the do-it-all forward had more control, allowing him to do his thing on the court.
Abueva was all over the place with his infectious energy. He eventually ended up with 20 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, and two steals to lead the Fuel Masters to the 110-103 victory that tied the series at 1-1.
But the 32-year-old didn’t play his best just to help his team bounce back from that Game 1 outing.
“Wala si Matt eh,” said Abueva moments after the match at the SMART 5G-powered AUF Sports and Cultural Center.
“Kailangan namin mag-step up — kaming lahat. At nagawa naman namin.”
Matthew Wright only saw limited action in Game 2, still because of the sprained right ankle he suffered last Wednesday. He played for 15 minutes, before head coach Topex Robinson took him out of the game before the fourth quarter started.
And so Abueva took the lead. He did not allow Phoenix to melt down after the Tropang Giga cut down its 18-point lead — and even led by two with 5:14 remaining in the game.
He sparked the revolt, and the other Fuel Masters in Jason Perkins, Alex Mallari, RR Garcia, and Justin Chua followed suit. They completely frustrated Coach Bong Ravena’s wards en route to reducing the series to a best-of-three.
Robinson, meanwhile, feels proud to see Abueva deliver this way — in his words, a ‘different beast.’ He also beamed with pride over the eight-year pro fulfilling his promise to Wright.
“It’s always a joy to see Calvin be a different beast right now. He knows that Matt is not a hundred percent, and he just kept on promising that, you know, when he wasn’t around, Matt was there for him. And ito ngayon, sabi niya nawala naman si Matt, siya naman ‘yung babawi. Matt wants to extend this series and we really offered this game to Matt,” he said.
“We were telling him not to play, but he said he wants to play. So we wanna honor him. And again it’s a big win for us, to get our bearings back. And hopefully we could prolong the series.”