MANILA, Philippines – When Calvin Abueva gets to do his thing, Magnolia is hard to beat.
That was evident on Wednesday, March 30, as Abueva delivered all-around numbers to help Magnolia drag Meralco to a rubber match in their best-of-five PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals following a 94-73 win.
Abueva churned out 11 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 25 minutes off the bench and posted a staggering plus-minus of +39 in the 21-point romp.
“Calvin is an [impactful] player. I talked to Calvin because for the last two games, he really struggled,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero in a mix of Filipino and English.
“I told him we need him in order to get back into the series. We need his presence on both ends of the floor.”
Abueva averaged just 9.5 points on a 33% clip (6-of-18) to go with 3.5 rebounds as Magnolia dropped the last two games, paving the way for Meralco to nail a 2-1 lead.
The decline in numbers may have something to do with Abueva getting preoccupied with his newborn son.
“He had baby. He needed to take care of his family,” Victolero said.
But it was only a matter of time before Abueva found his groove, and with their conference on the line, he heeded the call to play better.
While Abueva still shot a lowly 20% from the field, making only 1 of his 5 field goals, he made up for it with his aggressiveness as he attempted 12 free throws, sinking 9 to breach double figures in scoring.
“I’m really thankful because they stepped up, including Paul (Lee), Jio (Jalalon), and also our import (Mike Harris.) His presence is really big for us,” Victolero said.
Victolero, though, knows it will only get harder for Magnolia from here on out as he expects a mighty fightback from Meralco in their winner-take-all clash on Friday, April 1, for the last remaining finals berth.
“We have not achieved anything. We only tied the series.” – Rappler.com