The historic PBA bubble saw the return of one of the most popular players in the league today, Calvin Abueva.
After a 16-month indefinite suspension because of multiple controversies last season, the PBA gave Abueva the green light to finally play in the PBA bubble in the middle of the tournament.
His return was a great moment for Phoenix fans as he showed that game rust was not in his vocabulary. He finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists in his first game back as he helped Phoenix take down NLEX, 114-110.
That became the start of a great run for “The Beast” and the Fuel Masters as they had a strong playoff run, going as far as the Semifinals before losing to TNT, 3-2. In that series, Abueva averaged 19.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals.
Despite the losing effort, fans and critics applauded how Abueva performed especially with the fact that he was missing his co-star Matthew Wright in some games.
However, no one is happier than PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, who praised the growth that Abueva has shown.
“Tuwang-tuwa ako sa ginawa ni Calvin (Abueva), makikita mo nandun pa rin yung pagiging pisikal pero di na siya nang=aasar o ano man. Tsaka pag may natutumbang player, makikita mo binubuhat niya, kakampi nya man o hindi. Binubuhat nya, lahat yun,” he said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
“Makikita mo kung mag co-concentrate talaga siya sa game, nag triple-double, 20 points and above, double digits in rebounds. In all honesty, ang laking tuwa ko kay Calvin talaga. Personal opinion ko, ang laki ng in-improve nya and ang galing talaga ni Calvin,” he added.
During the time that Abueva was serving his suspension, fans and critics were throwing hate on Marcial as they were questioning his decision to put the Pampanga native on the sidelines for that long.
Despite all the criticism he has received, the top honcho of the top basketball league in the country put his foot down and his decision turned out to be what was right for the league and Abueva.
In his return, Abueva finished the season with averages of 13.6 points, 10.6 rebounds (second in the league), 6.7 assists (first in the league), 1.3 steals in 43% shooting at the field.
He elevated his game in his first playoff run in 16 months as he averaged 17.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.0 steals along.
With Abueva focusing solely on his game rather than his antics, big success could potentially be on the horizon for Phoenix for the next few years.
Do you think Abueva will win the BPC? Sound off below in the comment section!