When you ask people to describe “Filipino basketball,” many would probably say “tough and physical.”
In the PBA, no two other players embody the tough and physical brand of play than Calvin Abueva and Marc Pingris. Their playing styles may be different, but they both play with unlimited hustle, energy, and heart, which endears them to fans, particularly when they suit up for the Gilas national team. Their toughness and passion for the game make them invaluable members of Gilas and their respective PBA ballclubs.
Abueva and Pingris are players that everyone would love to be on their team, but would hate if they were playing for the opposing team. If you had to pick one over the other, whom would you choose? Given the age discrepancy between the two, comparing them right now would be unfair to Marc Pingris, who is already in the latter stages of his career. It would also be unfair for Calvin Abueva if we compare career stats given the lack of seasons under his belt. Instead, let us take a look at their numbers from their best individual seasons:
The numbers show that, at their best, Abueva was clearly a better scorer and also a more versatile defender, while Pingris had the advantage in rebounding and efficiency. It is also worth noting that Abueva was able to average those numbers in significantly less minutes.
The raw numbers may seem to favor The Beast, but it is important to remember that Marc Pingris was never really touted as a go-to guy on offense like Abueva. Pingris is on teams for his defensive presence, hustle, and leadership. Besides, what endears both players to fans isn’t necessarily their production but their fiery drive for the game; in that aspect, Marc Pingris may actually have the edge on Abueva. The Pinoy Sakuragi is just a little bit better in keeping his emotions in check during games and in not allowing his competitiveness to translate into cheap tactics.
At the end of the day, selecting either of the two really boils down to preference and need. Abueva is an all-around beast who will try to (and can) win you games on his own. Marc Pingris is a steadying presence on both ends of the court who will be more than happy to do his job to allow other players on the team to flourish. No matter who your preference is, let us just be thankful that we have had the privilege of watching both of these stars play in the PBA and for Gilas Pilipinas.