Calvin Abueva built a reputation of being a troublemaker, but that seems like a thing of the past now.
"The Beast" said he is now focused only on winning as he opens a new chapter in his roller-coaster PBA career, with the league finally lifting his indefinite suspension that lasted for 16 months.
His hunger for victory was evident in his long-awaited PBA comeback after he keyed Phoenix to a 114-110 win over NLEX in the Philippine Cup with a near triple-double of 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists.
"I'm already expecting that," Abueva said in a mix of Filipino and English when asked about opponents trying to get under his skin. "I always remind myself to keep focused, keep my game good."
Abueva endeared himself to PBA fans with his brand of basketball – passionate, confident, and mischievous.
But that same fire also contributed to his undoing as Abueva's emotions got the best of him when he clotheslined former import Terrence Jones, an incident that turned out to be the final straw for the PBA to punish him.
Now back on the PBA hardcourt, Abueva wants to turn over a new leaf.
"I'm not thinking about trouble and anger. I now think about how we're going to win every game," Abueva said.
His huge impact showed up in the stats sheet as Abueva recorded a plus-minus of +18 in 32 minutes off the bench.
Save for a few forced shots – Abueva missed his first 3 field goal attempts – and turnovers, Phoenix thrived with the do-it-all forward on the floor.
"What I bring is joy to the team. We need joy on and off the court," said Abueva, explaining that he, his teammates, and the team staff are all they got while playing inside the bubble.
Phoenix head coach Topex Robinson, who was still a deputy for the team when the PBA dropped the hammer on Abueva, relished the return of the player he considers his "son."
"It is a blessing to have him there," said Robinson.
"We just have to continue supporting Calvin because he is a part of us, he is a part of our family, and we're always going to protect our family." – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.