From half a world away, the final line up of the Philippine National Men’s Basketball Team for this year’s FIBA 2016 Olympic Qualifier was announced via teleconference. The results were broadcast in a TV special that aired on TV5 earlier this evening.
Of the 14 players vying for inclusion in the Final 12, fan favorite Calvin Abueva, known for his proactive style of play, was surprisingly not on the list. This was rendered all the more shocking as “The Beast” had been considered a sure thing following his headline-making performance with Gilas 3.0 that nabbed the Silver medal in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship.
The Gilas Pilipinas Twitter account posted a photo of Abueva, with the caption, “Salamat Calvin Abueva! Not included in Final 12.” The resulting outpour of support from fans of the reigning league MVP all boiled down to variations on the same question: “Why was Calvin not included?”
However, now is not the time for negativity. As recounted by team manager Butch Antonio, the reactions of Abueva (and LA Tenorio, who was also excluded) boiled down to: “It was difficult but what made it easier is the way they responded, the way they took the decision. It was team first before them.”
Indeed, now that the lineup has been finalized, the Gilas can concentrate in earnest for the Olympic Qualifiers scheduled to kick off in Manila on July 5. It’s time for fans to move on and direct their energies towards supporting the men who will be playing with Heart on Fire in service to the nation.
It is, after all, what The Beast would have wanted.