That’s how Phoenix interim head coach Topex Robinson described the feeling of having Calvin Abueva back on Monday night. The 32-year-old played his first game back in the PBA following the end of his suspension, which ran for 16 months.
“It’s really magical that he’s here again.
“We want to thank the Commissioner’s Office, the Board of Governors, for finally allowing him to go inspire a lot of people,” he said after the Fuel Masters’ 114-110 win over NLEX.
Expectations were high for Abueva in his first game in exactly 512 days, but Robinson said that he and the team tempered theirs. For them, it was more important to give the support their teammate needs.
“Actually coming into the game, we really tried to quiet our expectations of Calvin. Everybody was expecting that he’s gonna be all-out and loose. But at the end of the day, ang importante is that we give big support,” he said.
“And I think that’s what he always needed during the year and a half that he was done. We just have to continue supporting Calvin because again, he’s part of us. He’s part of our family, and we’re always going to protect our family. We’re always going to be our brother’s keeper.”
Abueva, for his part, paid it back in the best of ways. He churned out an impressive performance of 21 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists — playing as if he never left.
“He played his heart out,” said the youthful bench tactician. “I just have to give credit to these guys that really gave their best again. They never stopped playing. And we’re just happy to have him back.”
Everyone in Phoenix is happy, most especially Robinson.
The 48-year-old even shed tears after their win over Magnolia last Friday. He opened up how tough it was for him, having to leave Abueva in the hotel inside the bubble while the team went to the games.
“It’s really hard to leave the gym or the hotel knowing that one of your sons is not with you,” he said. “As a father to a son and not to be with one of your sons, one of your children is really hard for a coach, especially right now.”
But now that Abueva is back, there will be no more tears to shed. No more heart-wrenching feelings for Robinson, as they can all move forward and focus on improving as a team.
“It’s a blessing to have him.”