It wasn’t easy to let go of Calvin Abueva.
Phoenix Super LPG head coach Topex Robinson confessed as much in light of the team’s decision to part ways with the star forward by trading him to Magnolia for Chris Banchero and two 2021 draft picks.
“It was not an easy decision to let go of a player like Calvin, considering he has been through thick and thin with Phoenix,” said the youthful bench tactician, who was the 33-year-old’s mentor in San Sebastian.
Abueva and the Fuel Masters undeniably went through thick and thin during their two-year relationship. They began late in 2018 when he was dealt to them by Alaska for Karl Dehesa and a 2019 first-round pick.
The former Best Player of the Conference helped the franchise reach the semis for the first time in the 2019 Philippine Cup. Then a pair of on-court controversies the following conference led to his suspension.
That banishment lasted for 16 long months, easily the longest in league history. Still, Phoenix tried its very best to help Abueva prove to the PBA that he has changed, and he deserves to return.
He was finally reinstated during the 2020 Philippine Cup bubble in Clark. Abueva immediately gave back to his team by helping them return to the semis. They were actually one win away from the Finals, but bowed to TNT.
Abueva even became a serious contender for the BPC plum, finishing second in the statistical points race with 37.1. He normed 15.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.7 steals in just 12 outings.
The 2012 second overall pick was also a candidate for the coveted Samboy Lim Sportsmanship Award, as he made the league notice how much he has changed since that banishment.
But as tough as it was to see him go, Robinson said that they are looking forward on how much the trade will impact Phoenix’s future following their acquisition of the 32-year-old Banchero and the two picks.
The Fuel Masters have given up their no. 10 pick in the deal, but they actually moved up to the draft order as they got in return the Hotshots’ sixth pick. They also received the rights to the no. 18 pick.
“We are excited to acquire a first-round pick from a very deep draft, And together with Chris Banchero, who is a superstar in his own right, the team has a great opportunity to grow in the years to come,” said Robinson.
The Fil-Italian guard gets to reunite with some of the people he worked with in Alaska such as Robinson, team manager Paolo Bugia, and teammates RJ Jazul and Jake Pascual.
Moving forward, Robinson wished Abueva all the best as he joins a Magnolia side that’s looking to win another PBA title after winning one in 2018, when it lorded over the Governors’ Cup at the expense of the Aces.
“We thank Calvin for everything he has done for us, and we wish him all the best in his new journey.”