Intensity has started to pick up on Gilas Pilipinas’ training session and it’s not surprising it has been clearly felt with the arrival of energetic Alaska wingman Calvin Abueva on Wednesday at the Meralco gym in Ortigas, Pasig City.
The 6-foot-2 Abueva, after a 6-day break given by national team coach Tab Baldwin, became the latest addition to the Nationals’ practice, providing the usual energy and hustle that he’s been giving to the Aces in the pro ranks.
And Baldwin certainly took notice of that during their first afternoon training session that lasted for 3 hours as usual.
“It’s good,” beamed the American-Kiwi coach. “I think the most enduring quote about Calvin is ‘Calvin is Calvin.’
“He brings the same things. He brings energy, he brings intensity, he brings a feeling of enjoyment to the game,” he added. “Any team that experiences that, enjoys that and they revel in that. We were waiting for him, he arrived and he didn’t disappoint. He has things to catch up on but Calvin will do that.”
Abueva was certainly all over the floor during their intra-squad scrimmage and he even accidentally poked San Miguel Beer gunner Marcio Lassiter in the eye while going after the leather.
“We were going for the ball and I think it was a deflection and we’re going after the ball and at the same time, we reached for it. I think he just followed through and got me in my eye. It’s part of the game,” said Lassiter, his right eye still having some redness when he spoke to sports scribes.
Although naturalized player Andray Blatche has yet to join the team and injured Rain or Shine sharpshooter Jeff Chan remained as a spectator for the second straight time, Baldwin still have some good reasons to stay upbeat with less than 2 months to go before the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“It was a good practice today. (They are) getting better and the guys are doing their job. I was saying they’re buying in but they’re really doing more than that,” he said. “I think they bought in from the beginning. They’re understanding more and more of what we want.
“We’re still just working on our offense. We probably will do that for the remainder of the week. Until we get Andray in, we’ll start fleshing out the whole system, offense and defense.”
Baldwin, however, is still hopeful that the 6-foot-2 Chan, who is dealing with a groin injury, could join the Nationals sooner than later.
“As soon as we get Jeff back, we’ll be good. We just hope that he’s gonna respond to his treatment and he’ll be back sooner than later,” he said, adding “It’s an anxious time when you really don’t have all of your players.”
“That’s really all I can say. as a coach, it’s very uncomfortable when you really don’t have all your players. It’s an environment that is not conducive to the development at the rate that we want to develop,” Baldwin stressed. “So when we get them all in, I think everybody feels better and we’re getting close to that.” — By Jerome Lagunzad