MANILA, Philippines—It was not farfetched to call Calvin Abueva a headache whenever he plays.
He’s had two high-profile suspensions from the PBA and Fiba involving his oftentimes roughhousing, but that’s all changed since he was allowed back to join Phoenix in the 2020 Philippine Cup.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, who bore the brunt of deciding when to reinstate Abueva into the PBA, was pleased with how the polarizing forward has improved his attitude during games.
In an interview with the Philippine Sportswriters Association, Marcial admitted that he’s happy with how Abueva carried himself on the court during the bubble in Clark, Pampanga.
“I’m really happy with Calvin,” said Marcial in Filipino. “You can see how much he’s changed. He still plays with physicality but he’s let go of all unnecessary motions. He’s not getting under his opponents skin any more.”
“If there’s a player who fell down on the floor, either it’s his teammate or not, he’ll help that guy back up.”
Abueva’s PBA suspension, which lasted from June 2019 to October 2020, stemmed from his physical altercation with then TNT import Terrence Jones and verbal spat with Maika Rivera, the girlfriend of Bobby Ray Parks Jr., during the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.
There was also his Fiba suspension in 2018 that followed the brawl between the Philippines and Australia in the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup Qualifiers.
He was slapped with a six-game suspension from Fiba tournaments, despite other players getting a maximum of five, as the governing body cited previous incidents for his prolonged punishment.
Nevertheless, Abueva has proven that he’s a changed man, much to the delight of Marcial.
“You can see that he’s really concentrating on the game more. He put up a triple-double, had 20-point games, and his rebounding is always on the double digits,” said Marcial.
Abueva still looked like the stat-sheet stuffer that he is, despite more than a year outside of active competition, and finished the Philippine Cup with averages of 15.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks a game.
“He’s improved a lot. You all can see that he’s a really great player,” said Marcial.
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