Abueva benched due to injured thumb
MANILA, Philippines – The Alaska Aces wanted Calvin Abueva to leave finger prints all over the endgame of Finals Game 2 against San Miguel, but Abueva’s thumb did not cooperate.
Abueva was missing in action during the pivotal final minutes of Game 2 owing to his injured thumb, as the Aces absorbed a 25-point barrage from the Beermen in the last 7 minutes, and endured a scoreless final two minutes to close the game.
“I was going to put him back in but remember he slammed his thumb on the rim,” Alaska head coach Alex Compton said Sunday, July 12 as his team fell 2-0 in the best-of-7 series after San Miguel snatched Game 2, 103-95, in the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup.
“It’s really bruised. I wanted to put him back in but hindi niya kaya (he couldn’t play). I’m not going to force a guy who’s injured. He can’t hold the ball.”
The 2013 Rookie of the Year hurt his right thumb early in the fourth period of the series opener after he smacked it on the backboard in an attempt to stop Arwind Santos on the break.
Abueva came off the bench in Game 2 and had a productive 11:08 minutes, playing effectively with a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the field and two for two from the stripe for his 13 points. He also registered 4 rebounds and two assists.
The 27-year old Alaska energizer bunny checked in at the start of the fourth and helped spur some separation from San Miguel, even connecting on his lone three-point attempt to notch the Aces’ biggest lead of the game at 9 points.
But Abueva, one of Compton’s relentless and most stubborn defenders, subbed out with 7:45 remaining and soon after that the Beermen went on a scoring rampage with 25 points in the final 7 minutes.
Abueva’s aggressiveness on the offensive end was also missed as Alaska absorbed a 13-0 San Miguel blast to close out the contest.
“It’s been a tough conference for him. Calvin gives us so much energy,” Compton said. “But what’s pretty amazing about him is he plays through injuries nobody knows about. He’s got a sprained ankle, he’s hurt this or he’s hurt that. He keeps playing.”
Problematic Best Player
Compton can only hope the two-day gap before Game 3 on Wednesday, July 15 will be enough for Abueva to recuperate, as he will need his player fully energized if Alaska is to avoid a 3-0 grave.
He will also need that extra body to help cover all fronts of the Beermen’s loaded roster, including the newly crowned Best Player of the Conference June Mar Fajardo. (READ: Fajardo wins third Best Player award; Travis named Best Import)
“The dilemma I think that us coaches have when we play San Miguel is the most dominant local in the game June Mar Fajardo requires attention,” Compton declared as Fajardo quietly asserted himself Sunday with 16 points, including 10-of-14 from the free throw line, and 14 rebounds and two blocks.
“I don’t imagine that there was a single soul that thought he didn’t deserve the Best Player of the Conference award. He’s great.”
Fajardo is averaging 17 points, 15.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in the two Finals games so far.
Compton also noted import Arizona Reid, who came in second place for the Best Import plum behind winner Romeo Travis.
“AZ Reid is a great scorer. He won Best Import twice, and deservedly so. You got those guys, it’s a nice combination. It causes us problems.”
Like Yeng Guiao before him in the semifinals, Compton will have tough homework ahead of Game 3. He admitted sleepless nights await him as he tries to solve the puzzle of putting a stopper on San Miguel’s rich offense that comes with high quality inside presence and on-target sharp-shooters.
“It’s really challenging with all the threats that they have,” he said.
Meanwhile, there was no trace of doubt or foreboding on Travis’ face as he faced the media after the gamel, knowing the Aces can still turn the series around.
“I’m still confident because we play good defense,” he said after putting up 23 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists. “Once we figure it out defensively, we’re gonna be fine because that’s where we made our calling card all conference. We’re a great defensive team so once that happens, I think they’re going to be in trouble real soon.” – Rappler.com