Friday the 13th proved to be an eventful day for Alaska star Calvin Abueva, who claimed his first-ever Best Player of the Conference award while helping the Aces stay alive in their best-of-seven PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals showdown with Rain or Shine with a 111-99 victory in Game 4 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-2 Abueva, 28, came off the bench and provided the usual spunk on both ends, collecting 14 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a steal against three errors before getting ejected for his second technical for resentment to a call with 1:35 left to play, with the Aces still comfortably ahead at 101-88.
“Ngayon lang lumabas itong laro namin,” Abueva told sports scribes with a big smile after emerging from their dug-out, adding the Aces intend to double their efforts anew when they try to extent the series anew on Game 5 this Sunday.
“Iniisip namin na ‘Oy andito tayo, nanalo na tayo. Huwag tayong mag-relax sa Game 5.’ Mas hihigatan pa namin ang depensa at ‘yung mindset and focus sa depensa namin sa kanila,” said the former San Sebastian College standout.
Abueva, a perennial BPC contender, admitted he could not help but hold back tears after finally bagging what seemed to be an elusive award since being picked by Alaska at second overall during the 2012 rookie draft.
“Kanina pagbanggit ng pangalan ko, talagang naluha ako,’ he said. “Pero siyempre hindi ko iniisip ‘yung nakuha ko. Mas importante sa akin ‘yung panalo ngayon. Sakto nakuha ko nga ito at nanalo naman kami.”
Although they finally found an antidote to the Painters’ high-octane offense, Abueva knows the Aces still have a big mountain to climb.
“Hindi naman basta-basta na makukuha agad natin yung four straight wins na hindi tayo nahihirapan e. Siyempre bago nila ibigay yun talagang papahirapan tayo ng mga yun. Hindi naman susuko basta-basta ang mga ‘yan,” he said.
So long as they give their all, Abueva is convinced Alaska has what it takes to duplicate the feat achieved by San Miguel Beer in the Philippine Cup last February.
“Hindi naming iniisip yung ganoong sitwasyon na nangyari sa amin noong last conference na naging 3-0 tapos naging 4-3 di ba? Hindi rin naman namin hiniling na maging ganito kami this conference na ito. Pero ang ina-assure namin ay talagang lalaban kami hanggang huli,” he said.
“Naniniwala ako na hindi pa naman ‘yun ang huli na mangyayari. May comeback ‘yan, kaya sobrang may determinasyon kaming manalo lalo na ngayon na parang umaangat na ang depensa namin. Nakukuha na namin ang dapat naming gawin at kung ano ang dapat naming i-adjust. Mas gaganda pa ito sa Game 5.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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