PBA’s ‘The Beast’ unleashedBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines – Head coach Luigi Trillo has repeatedly called Calvin Abueva a “game-changer” and the prized rookie has indeed helped turn Alaska’s fortunes around in the 38th PBA Philippine Cup.
Much like what he did in the amateurs “The Beast” has come up with veteran-like all-around numbers, stoking the Aces’ rise from the cellar to earn the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors from October 22 to 28.
In Alaska’s back-to-back wins over Air21 and Barangay Ginebra, the second overall pick, averaged 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds not to mention the intangibles – hustle and dynamic play – that has visibly rubbed off on his teammates.
“He is a ball of energy who brings so much passion to the game for us,” said Trillo before baring more should be expected from the 24-year-old with the blue-collar attitude.
“We are using him at the forward position. We have not even tried him out in the wing or point guard position. I cannot remember a (local) player who could play all five positions,” mused Trillo.
Actually, there is one player and he was a vital cog in Alaska’s multiple title runs in the 1990s, including a Grand Slam in ’96.
“He (Abueva) reminds me of our past import, Sean Chambers,” stated Trillo, a long-time deputy of former head coach Tim Cone. “Undersized with a very big heart.”
Case in point for Trillo was Abueva’s most recent game.
”Abueva, 19 (points), 9 (rebounds), 3 assists and 1 (steal),” enumerated Trillo while looking over the stat-sheet in Alaska’s 87-69 rout of Barangay Ginebra last Sunday.
“He’s really a game-changer. When he comes in, you feel intimidated. And to do it at the [power forward] spot, it’s amazing. He’s (just) 6-1.”
The energy should have flagged, coming as it did on the heels of Abueva’s 16-point, 12-rebound performance in a cruising 92-81 win over Air21 just two days before. But it didn’t.
Overall, Abueva has averaged 15.7 points and 12.3 rebounds in his first three games as a pro to help Alaska win four straight that put its bad start behind it.
The streak moved the Aces into a share of second spot with Rain or Shine, but Trillo keeps pointing out there’s still a long way to go.
And so far, it’s Abueva who’s leading the way for Alaska.