While waiting for ‘The Beast,’ Phoenix anchors strong start on culture of belief
There was hardly a trace of worry in Calvin Abueva’s face as he waited for Phoenix’s utility person to set up his makeshift ice bath.
“Just waiting, chill chill lang muna,” Abueva told the Inquirer when asked on the status of his appeal to have his indefinite suspension lifted.
On Thursday, his coach, Topex Robinson, and his squad, Phoenix Super LPG, continued making do without his services, building on a culture of trust in the Philippine Cup.
There was the faith that Matthew Wright, the team’s top gun in a previous victory, put on Jason Perkins, which the former La Salle star repaid with a career-high 31 points.
There was the trust that Robinson, who assumed head coaching duties for Phoenix just before the league resumed its season inside a bubble, had on Justin Chua, who kept hoisting triples and made three of five attempts, including a key one down the stretch.
And there was Robinson’s belief in his assistants, who drew up key plays down the stretch in a 110-105 victory over NorthPort at Angeles University Foundation on Thursday that gave the Fuel Masters a share of the early lead in this compressed tournament.
“You can’t just talk about trust. It’s not an instruction, you have to act on it,” Robinson told the Inquirer on the heels of their victory that put them at 2-0, the same record of idle TNT.
Barangay Ginebra later matched that record with a 103-99 victory over Blackwater in the second game.
There is also the trust Robinson has in the ongoing process to have Abueva reinstated after “The Beast” cleared one of the few last hurdles to his return.“We hope that he’ll be back cause he’s gonna bring so much energy. But we’re also happy with Perk, with winning, while waiting for Calvin’s return. And hopefully he’s gonna return soon,” Robinson said.
The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) on Thursday announced that Abueva had cleared the Professional Athlete’s Code of Conduct and Ethics seminar, one of the prerequisites to regaining his professional basketball license.
“Calvin’s license is for reinstatement but probationary for six months,” GAB chief Abraham Mitra said. “I witnessed how remorseful … he is. I think he has learned his lesson. He said he wants to do this for his family.”
Three nights after Wright torched Meralco with 36 points, he yielded scoring honors to Perkins, who nailed key baskets down the stretch, including two free throws that gave Phoenix a 108-104 cushion with 12 seconds to play that ended NorthPort’s furious endgame stand.
Chua drained a clutch trey to give Phoenix a 101-94 spread and about three minutes later, Wright added another three that pegged the count at 106-99, 56 seconds to play.
But the Batang Pier rallied behind Kevin Ferrer, whose triple moved NorthPort within two, 106-104.
Wright added 23 points and nine assists in the contest while Chua and RJ Jazul chipped in 17 and 10, respectively.
Christian Standhardinger registered 28 points and 11 rebounds for NorthPort, which dropped to 0-2. Sean Anthony, the team’s skipper, punched in a triple-double of 23 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Robinson has shown no signs of cramming since taking over from Louie Alas before the tournament started. And a lot of it is because the former playmaker has shared responsibility—and more—with his players and deputies.
“They know no matter what happens, it’s going to be my head [that rolls first]. They know that I’d be the first guy who’d jump off that building if need be. That’s how you build trust,” he said.
“While I am not taking credit for whatever is happening right now, I’m sure I’d take responsibility if we mess up,” Robinson added.
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