Calvin Abueva was one of Will McAloney’s hardcourt heroes growing up.
Back when he was a kid in Cebu, the burly big man would always watch Abueva during his days in San Sebastian and, later on, Alaska and Phoenix.
On Monday evening, the 26-year-old faced his idol, who was returning to the game after a 16-month absence.
Though part of the welcoming committee, McAloney shared that he and the rest of NLEX did not think of the hype heading in the game.
“‘Di naman namin iniisip sino kalaban namin,” said the 15th overall pick in the 2019 PBA Regular Draft.
“Ako, iniisip ko lang palagi kung ano maco-contribute ko sa team.”
Despite being tasked numerous times to defend Abueva, the 6-foot-5 product of University of San Carlos was unperturbed, even banging bodies with the enigmatic Fuel Master.
“Mas nakaka-challenge ‘pag nandun siya eh,” shared McAloney.
“Kailangan mo kasi siya hanapin at i-box out kasi malakas siya sa offensive rebound eh.”
There was even a brief interaction between McAloney and Abueva.
Early in the game, Abueva was able to draw a charge from him. Thinking it was a flop, McAloney tried to protest.
“Tumawa lang siya eh, tapos kinamayan ako,” gushed McAloney.
McAloney ended up with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting with four rebounds and a steal. However, NLEX fell to Phoenix in a thriller, 110-114.
Though happy to see his hero back, McAloney just hopes that he can help the Road Warriors snap out of their funk.
“Grateful ako na nabibigyan ako ng playing time sa pros,” said the former Cebu Shark.
“Sa time na bibinibigay sa akin, ipapakita ko kung ano ang kaya ko sa team.”