Gilas’ Abueva relishing first ever national team stint
TAIPEI – Calvin Abueva, despite a glittering collegiate career, is a first-time national player.
And the undersized power forward whose tenacity and ferociousness in fighting for rebounds has earned the nickname “The Beast,” was the first to admit that he let too many opportunities to play for the country slip by.
“It (playing for the national team) was not in my career path that time,” Abueva told reporters here in Filipino on Sunday morning, moments after Gilas Pilipinas prepared for its debut in the 37th Jones Cup against Chinese Taipei A at Xinchuang gym here.
“Not that this has happened, I am working very hard for it,” he went on. “I didn’t know that this was such a great feeling, playing for your country. I am proud of myself now that I am here.”
The 6-foot-1 power forward was a former NCAA MVP with San Sebastian where he once led the league in scoring, rebounding and assists in one season, a feat never heard of before.
But with Abueva not knowing it then, playing for the national team would have already completed his career, because he was destined to make it big in the pros anyway.
Abueva declined to play for the Philippines on two big occasions, the first being for the Norman Black-coached all-collegiate team that would win the Southeast Asian Games title in Jakarta in 2011.
He then refused to take part in becoming a part of the first Gilas Pilipinas program under Serbian coach Rajko Toroman. He and Paul Lee were the celebrated amateurs who were not in that team.
“For me, this is the best thing that has happened in a long while,” he said.