By JONAS TERRADO
Calvin Abueva is looking at producing a different outcome in his second straight semifinal appearance in the PBA Philippine Cup, this time as a member of the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots.
Abueva fell short of getting past the semis in last year’s Philippine Cup bubble while with the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, who lost in five games to the eventual runner-up TNT Tropang Giga.
Now with the Hotshots, Abueva could sense a better ending as it faces either NLEX or Meralco in a best-of-seven affair.
“Sana makapasok kami at makuha namin. Kasi sabi ko nga, iba tong team na to,” Abueva said after his 20-point, 19-rebound effort helped Magnolia sweep Rain or Shine with a 96-86 win in Game 2 of their quarterfinal series Thursday, Sept. 30.
“Kaya sabi ko pag napunta ako dito, talagang gagrab ko kung anung opportunity na pwede kong gawin dito,” added the early frontrunner for the Best Player of the Conference award.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero is glad to have Abueva, who was among those responsible for cutting short the Hotshots’ campaign in the 2020 season’s lone conference when the Fuel Masters won their quarterfinal match on Matthew Wright’s triple.
Abueva’s presence has been a major reason why Magnolia secured its first semis berth since a runner-up finish in the 2019 Philippine Cup, and there seems to be no indication that the energetic forward will slow down.
“Mahirap na kalaban si Calvin e. Mas maganda nang kakampi mo siya kaysa kalaban mo siya, diba?” Victolero said.
“And actually, we talked about this group, yung core na to, before the start of the season. I talked to the main guys and we said this is our chance. They have the talent, we have the materials. All we need to do is work hard and to work on that chemistry.
“And I think unti-unti dito sa bubble nabubuo namin yung chemistry. Si Calvin, nakakasundo na niya halos lahat, nakikilala na niya halos lahat. Yun lang naman ang worry ko before, na baka kulangin kami sa time for chemistry.
“But now, I think nakikita ko naman sa mga bata na they work hard together. They go to practice, they work hard, they prepare hard. Si Calvin mas malaking tulong sa amin, not only doon sa depensa, but also sa opensa, yung nagagawa niyang hustle, yung nagagawa niyang energy, yung extra possessions. Mas maganda na yung andito siya kaysa nasa ibang team.”