By Drei Christopher Villanueva
Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel are arguably the best forward combination in the league, with the two Alaska Aces players carrying their team to the finals four times over the last two seasons. Their versatility carried the Aces to new heights and their partnership even brought the national team to the grand finals of the FIBA World 3 x 3 competitions, cementing their reputation.
But following Blackwater’s acquisition of Mac Belo from the special draft for Gilas Cadet stalwarts, there might be a new duo in town. The question on fans’ minds now is: can the rookie could co-exist with Art dela Cruz, the incoming talented forward whose style of play is similar to that of the former Far Eastern University standout?
When asked about the comparison, Alaska coach Alex Compton told PlayPH that he sees the Belo-Dela Cruz partnership as similar to that of Abueva-Manuel tandem: “Players are not created the same, but there have been some similarities with these forwards who can play both the no.3 and no.4 spots…They both hustle and love to play defense, just like Vic and Calvin.”
Compton won’t be surprised if the two players could somehow enjoy the same success that Abueva and Manuel have achieved, noting, “Mac is a legit superstar in the making. We all know that. He’s a great kid, a great player, and his accomplishments even before he enters the PBA speak for themselves.”
And, on dela Cruz: “We all know Art dela Cruz come from a family with good basketball tradition. He’s one of the smartest players in the league and he knows how to use his body against his opponents.”
Currently, Abueva and Manuel’s advantage is their combined experience and the ability to play in tough situations, skills culled from playing together over the last two seasons. Through Compton’s mentorship, Abueva and Manuel have gone from relieving one another to co-existing and actually complementing each other.
“We’ve started to switch Calvin to play the No.3 and let Vic play the No.4. In that case, they could play together and it gave us significant results,” said Compton. “I won’t be surprised if Belo and dela Cruz could reach the same potential, because they’re both talented and great kids.”
Image sources: Interaksyon.com