Calvin Abueva’s confession reveals cagers’ concern for mental health

June 29, 2018 - 1:37 PM
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(Interaksyon file photo)
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Shortly after being named as part of the 14-man Gilas Pilipinas polo set to represent the country in the upcoming FIBA Asia World Cup Qualifiers, Alaska Aces forward Calvin Abueva has admitted to having recently struggled with depression.

The basketball star’s startling confession reveals how even top athletes have had to fight for their mental health.

Playing with the ‘black dog’

In a recent interview with ESPN5, Abueva spoke of depression and stress as the causes for a series of no-shows at practice sessions with the Aces.

The 2013 PBA Rookie of the Year earlier in June 2018 was given an indefinite suspension by the Alaska management for missing practice for a week without advise.

“While we understand Calvin may be going through some troubling personal issues, it does not obviate his responsibility to his team. The suspension is effective immediately,” said Alaska team owner Wilfred Uytengsu in a statement.

Some fans voiced their support for the troubled star.

A consistent all-star and mythical team selection since he was drafted with the second overall pick in 2012, the 6’2 star forward has been a constant asset for both the Aces and the national team.

“I want to apologize to Alaska for the depression I went through. They still accepted me, but there are some things that are complicated which need to change. But when I return [to the Philippines], I will do everything I can to come back to my team,” said Abueva in Filipino in his interview with TV5.

Abueva is not the first local cager to speak out about his struggle with depression.

In 2016, former Best Player of the Conference and Finals Most Valuable Player Macmac Cardona was rushed to the Makati Medical Center after a drug-induced suicide attempt.

Cardona was later allowed to return to the league, but things have since gone awry. The feared scorer once known as “Captain Hook” was jailed for allegedly assaulting his ex-partner in May 2018.

One of Abueva’s teammates, veteran forward Tony de la Cruz, has also admitted to struggling with stress and depression. In an interview with Inquirer in 2016, he admitted to having dealt with depression in the past, without knowing what he was dealing with.

Overseas, an upheaval in how people view mental disease is taking place on the grandest stage in basketball.

Not just in the PBA

A number of National Basketball Association players in recent times have spoken out about their struggle with keeping their mental health in check.

In February 2018, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan opened up to Toronto media after a worrying tweet hinting at depression went viral.

Despite his struggles, DeRozan managed to lead the Raptors to the second round of the 2018 playoffs, winning himself a coveted seat on the All-NBA Second Team in the process.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love a month later published an essay titled “Everyone in Going Through Something” on The Player’s Tribune, where he detailed a panic attack he suffered in the middle of a game, and how recurrent episodes affected his performance on court.