Calvin Abueva could actually make his PBA return much sweeter.
Reinstated last October that ended his 16-month suspension due to controversial on-court incidents, the Phoenix Super LPG forward could make that possible if he gets crowned as the 2020 Philippine Cup Best Player of the Conference.
Abueva is a serious contender for the highest individual award to be given for the season that featured just one conference due to time constraints brought upon by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The 32-year-old proved how much of a game-changer he really is, helping the Fuel Masters rise from a respectable 3-2 record early in the eliminations to being the second seed with an 8-3 card entering the playoffs.
They went all the way to the semifinals of the all-Filipino cagefest for the second straight time before bowing to eventual runner-up TNT, but it was still a campaign worth remembering for Abueva and Co.
The 2016 Commissioner’s Cup BPC finished at no. 2 in the statistical points race with 37.1, thanks to his per-game averages of 15.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.7 steals in just 12 outings.
Abueva, though, isn’t just vying for the coveted award. He is also in the running for the Samboy Lim Sportsmanship Award — further proof that the league has taken notice of how he’s changed his ways for the better.
But whatever happens, the entire Phoenix organization is surely proud of the growth Abueva has had as an individual and as a player following that life-changing experience. And that includes Matthew Wright.
“I think Calvin has done a much better job of disciplining himself and taking the higher road,” he told The Game on One Sports.
“There were teams trying to take advantage of his kindness or trying to rough him up a little bit to get some kind of emotion at him, and he did a very good job this conference of staying level-minded and just focusing on basketball.
“And it showed in his numbers,” furthered the Fil-Canadian sniper, who is also a candidate for the BPC award.
For Wright, much of the credit also goes to Phoenix head coach Topex Robinson, whom Abueva has known for a long time–dating back to their days together in San Sebastian.
“Coach Topex isn’t afraid to tell him what he doesn’t wanna hear, but what he needs to hear,” he offered. “And not only for Calvin, but for all of us. He gives you responsibility, and he holds you to a higher standard.
“He gives Calvin the freedom to do as he pleases but like I said, he has a responsibility to the team and to everybody else who represents the organization to represent themselves properly. He’s been put in that position and he’s succeeded in this conference,” he continued.
“We’re all very proud of Calvin, especially what he’s been through in the last year and a half.”