Thinking purely of its basketball interests, Phoenix Petroleum on Wednesday pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Calvin Abueva to Magnolia in exchange for Chris Banchero and two selections in the March Rookie Draft which the Fuel Masters believe are both worth it.
“We saw an opportunity and we grabbed it,” said a Phoenix official who refused to be identified as he admitted that his club felt offended by several Abueva reactions on social media that had the former Rookie of the Year saying he went to a better team.
Several sources inside the Phoenix camp also said Abueva’s old behavior was slowly resurfacing, and in the end, the risk of a relapse was just too great.“There’s no question that Calvin can play in our league and there’s no question of the impact he has,” said the team official. “But with him, everyone in the team—coaches, fellow players, management—needs to always keep an eye on him and keep his behavior in check off-court.“With Chris (Banchero) and the two Draft picks, we don’t see ourselves dealing with risks on and off the court.”
It was Abueva’s behavior that got him in trouble a couple of years ago, with his on-court antics earning him the longest suspension in PBA history.
Phoenix took care of Abueva during his unprecedented 16-month suspension, campaigning hard for his reinstatement and then taking him to the Philippine Cup bubble even with his status uncertain. After the tournament, the team even signed him to a three-year, maximum contract extension worth P420,000 a month—which, another team official confirmed to the Inquirer, surprised Abueva.
What the contract did not do, however, was turn him into a better person, or at least the version of “The Beast” that showed up in the bubble. The Inquirer sources said that the final straw was Abueva standing up team officials when called to meetings.
“There were offers for Calvin, and we saw this one as the best,” said one source.
Abueva is reportedly having problems at home—again—which has led to his bad behavior after the bubble, where he bonded with teammates and coaching staff.
The trade was a whirlwind transaction, as it was brought to the table only on Tuesday and got the green light the following day as Abueva reportedly kept to himself and refused to meet with team officials who called him for meetings.
It also came as a surprise since Abueva enjoyed a rejuvenation of sorts in the bubble, where he helped the Fuel Masters take powerhouse TNT to the distance in their best-of-five Final Four series.
He was so efficient on the floor that he was later on named as one of the candidates for the Best Player of the Conference award, only to lose out to Stanley Pringle of champion Barangay Ginebra.
He also behaved well enough—to the surprise of a lot—that he got his name included in the Sportsmanship Award where only the virtual saints in the league on the court are named as candidates.
Meanwhile, Alaska is still in the process of striking a deal that would benefit both the Aces and its disgruntled star, Vic Manuel.
“Where are we now? We’re in the same position—an even ground. We’re trying to find a place for him and at the same time, somewhat fair for us,” Alaska coach Jeffrey Cariaso told the Inquirer on Thursday. “There’s a lot of processes and to see if teams are really willing to trade for him. We had several offers but several offers also fell off the table after weeks of waiting,” he added.The contract stalemate has dragged on for over a month now, but Cariaso said that his team is taking it slowly but surely as the “games aren’t until April.”
However, the soft-spoken coach is hopeful that they are able to have a “clearer picture on what are our options are for Vic” before the PBA’s Rookie Draft this March 14. —WITH A REPORT FROM DENISON REY A. DALUPANG
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