Moments before tip-off, the Alaska Aces came out of the tunnel and was greeted by the warm cheers of their fans. As their opponents perform their usual pre-game shootaround to warm up for the match, the Aces take the opposite end of the floor to do drills as a team. They stretch together, line up and shoot some layups, run in single file, and head back to the bench all at the same time. It’s what they do before every game and as a fan, It sure does feel like watching a dance that run like clockwork. This team is different, and, if you look closely enough, there will surely be one guy that will catch your attention – The Beast Calvin Abueva.
Polarizing is one of the words that best describe the Alaska Aces’ forward. From the way he stands, walks, and even the way he smiles – he does them with an air of confidence. As soon as he steps on the hardwood courts, you can hardly miss him for he’s always on attack mode. Just by having on the floor, the momentum instantly shifts in the Aces’ favor – that’s the kind of impact he has on any game.
For his tenacity, relentless energy, and swagger, he earned the moniker “The Beast” as he emerged as a bonafide star. In his young professional career, he can be seen out-hustling most of his opponents, diving for loose balls, speeding through the lanes, and leaving both his fans and naysayers to wonder if his energy will ever run out. In the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships when Gilas Pilipinas 3.0 played Iran, Abueva refused to back down from the challenge of getting physical in guarding the much bigger and stronger reigning MVP Hamed Haddadi. He went neck-and-neck with Iran’s best player and as a result, Abueva was able to send Haddadi to the bench early as he fouled out of the crucial game.
Always giving his heart and hustle every game, The Beast Calvin Abueva never backs down from any challenge. (spin.ph)
Abueva’s mentality and style of play drew comparisons to The Living Legend Robert Jaworski who coincidentally was his childhood idol. As a young boy, Abueva taught himself how to play basketball by watching Jaworski play on the television. The next day, he goes to the cement courts of Bayanihan Park in Angeles, Pampanga, trying to immitate Jaworski’s moves.
“We play even if it’s high noon with just our slippers on,” Abueva said on recalling his younger self playing in his hometown. “Once we got home, we’re really dirty.”
Back in his heyday, Jaworski was known as a hardworking versatile star who did it all for his team, such as scoring, rebounding, handing out assists, and even, blocking shots – the same style that Abueva has emulated for his entire career. In truth, Abueva hasn’t done anything that has never been done before. What he does do, is do everything with a lot of heart – a burning heart that fuels his drive to succeed in any means necessary. There are times that he drew some flak for it, however, it’s simply the way he is – a passionate basketballer with a heart on fire.
From setting records in the NCAA, to spearheading the San Sebastian College – Recolletos Stags to win the NCAA title, to being named PBA Rookie of the Year, and ultimately, winning the PBA Championship with the Alaska Aces, Abueva has done more than mimic Jaworski’s style of play – he has turned himself into a winner.
“He’s trying to prove to everyone that he’s a winner,” said Abueva’s former college coach Topex Robinson. “You have to respect that also.”
Many have questioned his character, but they can never question the heart of The Beast. With his passion igniting his heart on fire, he will blaze the trail as he ascends into one of Philippine basketball’s brightest young stars, and, with this very heart, shape the legacy of a champion who never quit from anything.