All eyes will be on Phoenix Fuel Masters star Calvin Abueva again in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader in the PBA bubble. ‘The Beast’ faces his former team, the Alaska Aces, in just his second outing after getting his suspension lifted.
Will Abueva lead his team to another win? Or, will the Aces get back in the win column?
Catch this game live on October 29 at 4:00 pm, Manila time.
The Phoenix Fuel Masters (4-2)
The Fuel Masters are simply better when they have The Beast on the floor.
Despite a long layoff due to suspension, Calvin Abueva played like he didn’t miss any time, as he stuffed the stat sheet in Monday’s 114-110 win over the NLEX Road Warriors with 21 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists while finishing the game with a plus-18 in over 31 minutes of action off the bench.
Abueva was game-ready and seeing his performance in the NLEX game, there’s no stopping Phoenix head coach Topex Robinson from inserting the former San Sebastian Stag into the starting unit against Alaska. That being said, letting Abueva be part of the second unit again would mean a more robust bench production for the Phoenix team that is second-worst in the PBA with just 32.0 points per game from the relievers.
Having Abueva around improves Phoenix’s ball-movement, rebounding, perimeter defense, and toughness. Abueva and Jason Perkins are versatile two-way players who can control opposing big and wing players defensively while providing excellent scoring options on offense along with the hot-shooting Matthew Wright.
Wright is the PBA’s leading scorer for this conference, and he is averaging 25.5 points per game on 46 FG%.
The Alaska Aces (4-3)
Barkley Ebona played like he’s going to be a future star in the PBA when he scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds in just 21 minutes, albeit in a 92-88 loss to the San Miguel Beermen last Saturday. But he followed that up with a dud, scoring just five points in 28 minutes of action during Alaska’s 99-96 Tuesday win over the TerraFirma Dyip.
Still, Alaska must like what it is seeing from Ebona, who’s benefiting from the tutelage of Danny Ildefonso. Ebona’s aggressiveness on the glass and patience in the paint will always reward him with playing time, and Alaska is counting on him to provide those against the Fuel Masters. Ebona can be the energy guy that can match the tenacity of Abueva and limit the Fuel Master forward’s impact on the game.
But, of course, Alaska also has Vic Manuel and Abu Tratter to match up against Phoenix’s frontcourt.
Alaska needs to cut down on its turnovers, as the Aces are third in this conference with 17.43 miscues per game against just 18.71 assists per outing.
Abueva’s presence creates so many problems for his former team on both ends of the floor, as he and Perkins do damage with their versatility. Phoenix wins this game, 100-96.