It seems that a PBA season isn’t complete without a Calvin Abueva incident.

With less than two minutes left in the first quarter of the Magnolia Hotshots’ 87-77 loss to the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, Calvin Abueva fell to the ground after making contact with John Pinto. While that drew a whistle from the referee, Abueva decided that he needed to send a little something to the crowd.

His explanation after the game didn’t really offer much.

It’s the latest in a string of incidents that includes fighting with local and foreign players, coaches, his wife, a player’s partner, and now, someone from the crowd. 


The thing with Abueva is, his antics seem to serve as a distraction for the Hotshots. You’d expect players to be physical to set the tone for their team and it would serve as a warning for opponents. These at times come during the contest itself and to some extent, it’s part of the game.

But a middle finger to the crowd? There’s no place for that in the basketball court, more so when it takes away from the achievements of one’s team. Magnolia is currently 1-1 and they would rather focus on getting better as their 2024 Honda Philippine Cup campaign ramps up. The Hotshots pride themselves in being a physical team in the paint and when the physicality goes beyond basketball, it serves as a distraction that can undo everyone’s efforts in fulfilling championship aspirations.

Abueva for his part can still contribute, and he was even invited to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the last Asian Games if not for some technicalities. It is unfortunate that he goes off tangent just when things seem to get better.

Whether they like it or not, players like Abueva are role models for those that watch them live and virtually. Every move they make is scrutinized and much of what is seen is copied on the court, regardless if they are right or not. Physical basketball is fine and it seems to be a badge of honor that Filipinos wear with a lot of pride, but maybe it’s time to draw the line. 

What the PBA will do is anyone’s guess, but they could take the approach the NBA has taken with Draymod Green, where past transgressions will factor into the pending punishment, if any. So far, it seems things will be quiet in part because they’ve gotten used to who Abueva is, which would be unfortunate.

A fine or a suspension will be the likely course of action, but the bigger issue here is how the PBA will shift the focus towards the game itself rather than the entertainment aspect to it. Yes, Filipinos LOVE to be entertained but it has come at the cost of the quality of play, which we see is better in Japan’s B.League and South Korea’s Korean Basketball League. Putting a foot down could help the PBA get back on the right track and live up to its billing as Asia’s first professional basketball league.

Is there a place for Calvin Abueva in the PBA? Not for the Abueva that wants to pick a fight with anyone who walks. But an Abueva who can provide a spark for his team in their bid for a 2024 Honda PBA Philippine Cup championship? There could be a place for him, because the PBA is better off when Abueva sticks to basketball.