It’s all about advancing to the playoffs, no matter how tough it will be
For Calvin Abueva and the Alaska Aces, it does not matter whether they’re at the upper echelons of the standings or not. All that matters is being in the Top 8 that will advance into the next round.
Wednesday evening, the Aces edged out the Star Hotshots in a thrilling overtime affair, 97-90, to return to the win column of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In the high-octane match-up that saw lots of comebacks and scoring runs, Abueva owned the spotlight once more for the Aces, scoring five of Alaska’s 11 points at the end of the match to tip it in their favor.
He finished the match with 23 markers off 8-for-16 from the field to go along with nine boards for a near double-double performance.
And Abueva did all of that effort while falling victim to the game’s high physicality.
First, the athletic wingman suffered a busted lip. Next, he then landed on his wrist during the closing sequences of the extra period, which sent him down to the floor reeling.
As tough as ever, Abueva braved all of those and helped Aces secure the needed victory — a moment that best exemplifies the grit and grind mentality of the storied franchise.
“Siguro na-tsambahan lang yung last play, part of the game eh di ba,” said the two-time Mythical Five team member of the pain he had felt.
“Ginawa ko naman kung ano yung trabaho ko, kung ano pinapagawa sa amin kaya nasustain namin hanggang overtime.”
Alaska’s victory, which sends their record to 4-3, has now propelled them to a share of the third spot with Globalport and TNT in the team standings. A few more wins might even send them in the top two.
But for Abueva and the Aces, the possibility of being at a higher spot is far from their minds, as he points out that their focus is just the on playoffs.
“Siyempre malaking bagay, tumaas kami sa standing,” said Abueva regarding tonight’s gritty victory.
“May chance pa rin sa top two. [Pero] Hindi naman namin ina-ano yun. Ang goal namin makapasok sa playoffs.”
But for the Aces to be able to turn their hopes into reality, Abueva admits that the team, despite being in a good position, should not rest on their laurels especially at this point of the conference.
“Siyempre itong 2017 first game pa lang namin, first win, syempre marami pang makakalaban kaya di puwedeng magre-relax eh.
“Kailangan naming pumukpok kahit malayo pa yung game namin sa susunod,” vowed the four-year veteran.