Kung energy ang paguusapan, wala nang tutumbas pa kay Calvin Abueva.
So energetic was Abueva, who has nearly played non-stop basketball for the past two years .
He has played in almost all levels of competition – be it the PBA, the FIBA Asia Championship, the William Jones Cup tournament and the FIBA 3 x 3 World Tour. His team, Alaska, has figured in the finals series four times over the last two years, until an injury forced then Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin not to include The Beast in the final roster of the national team to the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila.
Pero hindi pa rin natitinag si Abueva at hindi siya nanghihinayang na makipagkumpetensiya sa mas bata at mga kasing agrisibong player na katulad niya.
“Masarap pa ring maglaro talaga sa Gilas. Walang inggitan dito,” Abueva told pba.ph.
On Gilas Pilipinas’ first practice session in the metropolis, Abueva showed up and competed with young frontliners, among them Mac Belo, Norbert Torres, Von Pessumal, Carl Cruz, Bradwyn Guinto, Raymond Almazan, Fonso Gotladera and Kevin Ferrer.
But Abueva believes cracking the line up won’t be an easy task as he has to work his way in making it to the final 12 for the SEABA Men’s Championship this May.
Paano nga ba naghahanda si Abueva?
“Kukuha ka talaga ng slot dyan sa 24. Maski hindi mo sabihin, hindi mo ibibigay yung slot mo. Paghihirapan mo yan,” added Abueva.
“Dahil mga bata mga kasama namin dapat mas maging aggressive kami. “Maraming bata, mas mataas yung energy. Mga wala pang experience yung ibang bata dito pero sige lang sila nang sige.”
For Abueva, the direction coach Chot Reyes to get young players is a good ploy as they will train together for the next three years. Gilas Pilipinas will need to win the SEABA Men’s Championship first here in Manila in order to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup, formerly known as the FIBA Asia Championship.
The FIBA Asia Cup will determine the qualifiers for the six-window, home and away tournaments leading to the 2019 World Cup.
Mahaba-haba pa ang lalakbayin ng Gilas Pilipinas pero handa si Abueva na mapabilang sa koponan.
“Maganda yung ginagawa ni Coach Chot (Reyes), bagay na bagay sa mga bata na wala nang play-play. Basta laro lang ng laro,” added Abueva.
AFTER a stirring 2-0 start, the Meralco Bolts brace themselves for a first major test versus the TNT KaTropa and import Louis Amundson in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday.
“TNT is a real tough team,” said Meralco coach Norman Black, hoping his team would be able to sustain their solid effort in their first two games to have a chance against the Texters.
The Ka Tropa dismantled the Bolts, 105-91, in the last Philippine Cup.
In their Commissioner’s Cup rematch, the Bolts will also have to deal with the TNT import that they’re not familiar with.
A replacement to Denzel Bowles, Amundson came in with sterling credentials including a 10-year stint in the NBA.
A UNLV product, the 6-foot-9 Amundson showed his wares in the NBA from 2006 to 2016, playing first for the Utah Jazz then with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Phoenix Suns, the Golden State Warriors, the Indiana Pacers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Chicago Bulls, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks.
He has NBA career averages of 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds, and among his career highlights was a 17-rebound performance last year against the San Antonio Spurs.
“Our defense has got to be strong, and we have to sustain a good team effort,” said Black.
The Bolts and import Alex Stepheson were pretty solid in their first two games, first drubbing the Mahindra Floodbuster, 94-86, then clobbering the NLEX Road Warriors, 91-84.
Stepheson dished out an even better performance in his second game in the local pro league, following up a 21-rebound, 11-point PBA debut with 18 markers and 20 boards.
But Black put a lot of credit on team effort and defense.
“It’s a second straight game we held our opponents to less than 90 points. Our defense really stepped up,” said Black.
“Our locals stepped up a lot. They did well a lot better than in the all-Filipino tourney. Overall, we put in a good team effort. We just have to continue to do that,” Black also said.
MAHINDRA and NLEX did not get off to the good start they wanted in the PBA Commissioner\'s Cup.
One is bound to get that much-needed breakthrough win when they clash Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The victor gets to break out of the cellar, which also has Blackwater as occupant. More important, either the Floodbuster or the Road Warriors would finally get that momentum they so direly need to get really going in the mid-season tourney.
For coach Chris Gavina, calling the shots for Mahindra in lieu of playing-coach Manny Pacquiao, just a little tinkering is needed by his team to rebound from its latest setback, a 95-99 overtime loss to reigning titlist Rain or Shine last Sunday.
\"Coming off another tough loss against Rain or Shine that I feel we did a tremendous job of putting forth a great defensive effort and displayed offensive grit against the defending champs,\" said Gavina.
\"We reviewed plays that showed a little more attention to details on rebounding and making better decisions on shot selection as well as unnecessary fouls at the end of that game could have helped us in grinding out a win,\"\" added Gavina.
\"The silver lining on that loss was that we showed we\'re capable of playing at a high level if we stay committed to our identity.\"
It\'s now a matter of putting the lessons learned from both the Elasto Painters game and an initial 86-94 loss to Meralco to good use.
\"If we don\'t stray from maximizing each possession, sticking to our defensive game plan and showing true toughness on defense, I feel we can always put ourselves in an opportunity to win ballgames,\" stated Gavina.
With a bigger dilemma is NLEX, at least according to coach Yeng Guiao.
In a 105-113 loss to Rain or Shine followed by an 84-91 setback to Meralco, the Road Warriors either failed to muster any telling run or simply collapsed when it mattered most, prompting Guiao to rue his team\'s apparent lack of improvement from its last-place finish in the Philippine Cup.
While maintaining the squad he handled starting only in October remains \"a work in progress\" and that fans need to be patient, Guiao stressed: \"We can\'t wait too long.\"
Still, Guiao remains holding the belief that his NLEX side will eventually come around.
\"We are hoping that it still comes together. It\'s just two games,\" he said.
\"But there are only nine games left in the conference, eliminations, and I feel we need to win at least six in order to give ourselves a chance (to make) the playoffs,\" added Guiao.
The Star Hotshots stretched their domination of the Phoenix Fuel Masters in PBA Season 42, making it four-of-four with a 101-82 victory in a Commissioner’s Cup showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday night.
Tony Mitchell more than held his own against Jameel McKay in a duel of PBA debuting imports, helping the Hotshots get past a team they swept in three matches in the Philippine Cup.
Mitchell shrugged off early fouls as he collected 24 points and 16 rebounds in showing his stuff as a former Detroit Piston.
Star local gunners Mark Barroca, Allein Maliksi and PJ Simon also provided firepower as the Hotshots got off to a triumphant conference start even minus key forward Marc Pingris.
“I’m thankful to my players. Our locals stepped up while our import stayed focused,” said Star coach Chito Victolero.
“We’re wary before the game knowing Phoenix was highly motivated because of last conference,” Victolero added.
Star utterly dominated Phoenix in each of their four matches in the season.
So dominant were the Hotshots who clobbered the Fuel Masters by 114 points in those games.
Barroca, Maliksi and Simon combined for 43 points as the Hotshots stayed in command to the finish after stopping Phoenix’s early charge and taking the opening period at 30-22.
The Hotshots enjoyed their first double-digit spread at 59-49 on a short stab by Ian Sangalang on a dish-off by Rafi Reavis and led by as many as 21 towards the end.
The Fuel Masters mounted a series of rallies but just couldn’t get into a real great groove.
They came to within four at 55-59 on two free throws by Karl Dehesa and a breakaway slam by JC Intal after a flagrant foul penalty one incurred by Maliksi.
Phoenix was still within striking distance at 67-73 towards the end of the third. Then the roof caved in on the Fuel Masters.
McKay produced 34 points and 20 rebounds in his own PBA debut.
Magbabalik aksyon na ang premyadong combo guard ng Phoenix Fuel Masters na si Matthew Wright sa Linggo.
Ariel Vanguardia, head coach of the Fuel Masters, confirmed this to pba.ph, saying the explosive rookie guard has already started practicing with the team.
“Balik na siya on Sunday,” wrote Vanguardia in a text message. “He is practicing now and will play on Sunday.”
Wright opted to rest in the Fuel Masters’ opening game this conference as he was still on his way to recovery after a foot bone spur injury.
“After kasi nung first conference, nagpa-surgery siya,” added Vanguardia.
Kaabang-abang ang magiging match up ni Wright kontra kay Jayson Castro, ang best point guard in Asia, pero nakasalalay pa rin ang magiging performance ng Fuel Masters sa kabuuan kung maganda ang ipapakita ng kanilang bagong import na si Jameel McKay.
For Wright, he cannot wait but to get back in action.
“I’m a little too eager. It’s hard for me to sit and watch the practices – the Phoenix practice and Gilas practice – but I feel good. It’s a matter of strengthening and getting my conditioning,” added Wright, who visited the Gilas Pilipinas pool practice on Monday.
Wright expects his foot to completely heal in the next two weeks, but plans to go on ahead of the schedule.
“Maybe another two weeks, but I can cut it to one,” he added. -- Andrei Villanueva