All-heart, all-passion, and all-hustle.
Even when it’s a lopsided game, you can always bet on the energy of Calvin Abueva. And on his current stint with Gilas Pilipinas, he is determined to make the most out of it.
In the Philippines’ 107-52 win on Wednesday against Vietnam, the Beast put up an all-around effort of 16 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block, all in just 23 minutes of play. Although the game was already practically decided by the end of the third period, Abueva was one of the players who played the majority of the final quarter. And of course, Gilas’ dynamic forward kept playing as though the score was tied.
“We wanted Calvin to play a lot of spots. He plays mostly the wing spots for us but we played him as a four today because we think [that’s what] we will need for [Thursday],” Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said about putting Abueva late in the ball game. “Plus, he had very few minutes in the first half, so it’s just a part of our balancing and distributing the minutes evenly to everyone and making sure nobody is getting overextended.”
Abueva played the second-most number of minutes against Vietnam, just behind Troy Rosario who logged in with 26 minutes. Both Abueva and Rosario started the game alongside June Mar Fajardo, Matthew Wright, and Terrence Romeo as Andray Blatche sat out nursing his hamstring.
Abueva is on his first Gilas campaign under Chot Reyes and he’s savoring the opportunity to help the team in any way he can.
“Sa akin kung ano lang pinapagawa ni coach ginagawa ko. Yung mga ineensayo ko, yun yung nagagawa ko,” said the soft-spoken forward.
Having been with Gilas Pilipinas back in 2015, Abueva knows a thing or two about international competition. And as one of the older classmen in the team, he’s also aware of the leadership role that he has. In this particular reincarnation of the national team, there are five rookies – Jio Jalalon, RR Pogoy, Raymond Almazan, Allein Maliksi, and Matthew Wright.
“Masaya, enjoy,” Abueva said smiling about the young guns of the team. “Yun nga, mga bata, more on running ginagawa namin ngayon. Kay coach Chot talaga, pag di ka tumakbo parang patay ang transition ng play namin kaya mostly tumatakbo lahat.”
With Gilas’ dribble-drive offense and relentless attacking, Abueva fits perfectly in the team.
“Special dito (sa team) yung run namin, yung opensa namin. Syempre may Andray Blatche kami, may mga shooter kami, may mga umaatake kami. Execute lang dapat yung mga set play namin,” he mentioned about the team’s versatility.
Abueva and the rest of Gilas will be tested one last time in the SEABA Championship as they face Indonesia on Thursday. The two teams have spotless records in the tournament, and the victor will get the lone ticket to the FIBA Asia Cup.
“We can just by win by one. All we need to do is to get the W. We’re not concerned about the margin of victory or whatever,” Reyes said about their impending matchup. “We just want to get the job done. We just want to make sure that we get to the FIBA Asia.”
And as if on cue, Abueva echoed the sentiments of his coach, “Hindi namin iniisip kung malaki o maliit lamang namin. Ang [focus] namin dito makakuha ng championship sa laro dito.”