At first glance, Calvin Abueva and Alaska are not exactly made for each other.
Abueva is a whirling dervish on the court, thriving on the chaos and confusion of the open court. He puts up beastly numbers in the NCAA, averaging 19.3 points, 16.5 rebounds, and 6.6 assists over 10 games so far in Season 88.
But there’s a price to pay for all that production. Abueva can be, at his worst, careless, erratic, and out of control; he averages 5.4 turnovers a game in this year’s NCAA tournament.
Alaska, on the other hand, is known for its deliberate style of play. While the team features fastbreaking spitfires like Cyrus Baguio and Bonbon Custodio, the Aces would rather have LA Tenorio controlling the tempo in the halfcourt to create open looks for big men Sonny Thoss and Gabby Espinas.
Despite the seeming mismatch, in the end Alaska could not pass up on someone with Abueva’s star potential.
“We’re definitely picking The Beast,” Alaska team manager Joaqui Trillo told InterAKTV hours before Sunday’s PBA draft, referring to Abueva’s nickname. The Aces picked Abueva second overall. “His talent is hard to pass up.”
It was a decision that drew praise from other PBA coaches, including Tim Cone, who called the shots for the Aces for 22 years before transferring to B-MEG prior to last season.
“He’s a game changer,” said Cone of Abueva. “If I were with Alaska, I would do the same. Even if I have James [Yap] or PJ [Simon], you will simply have to figure out a way to squeeze some playing time with this guy.”
Trillo said he expects Alaska to make adjustments to accomodate Abueva.
“I know he’s a talented player, particularly in the open court. Maybe we could give him freedom at times and play in his comfort zone,” said the elder Trillo.
Abueva, who is still currently playing with the Stags in the NCAA, cannot join the Aces until after the college tournament is over. Curiously, Abueva’s erstwhile college coach Topex Robinson resigned from the San Sebastian head coaching post to concentrate on Alaska.
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