In the Alaska Aces’ bout against Jameel McKay and the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday night, Calvin Abueva was present and in full uniform, but remained on the sidelines until the final buzzer.
“We needed to rest Calvin,” explained Alaska head coach Alex Compton of his decision, moments after the Aces’ 94-86 defeat to the Fuel Masters at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
“That cut on his mouth was bad.”
The 29-year-old had incurred a busted lip this past Monday during one of Gilas Pilipinas’ scrimmages, after being inadvertently hit by teammate Almond Vosotros. The bloody cut needed eight stitches in order to be closed.
The injury caused Abueva to miss practices both with Gilas and Alaska. He then became doubtful to play this Friday night, and that doubt became certain after the 43-year-old mentor opted to make him a DNP–coach’s decision.
For Compton, his decision was primarily influenced by Alaska’s support for the national team, as he did not want to jeopardize Abueva’s stint representing flag and country, especially now that the SEABA cagefest is just weeks away.
“Though he had a mask, he’s going into an opportunity to represent the country in Gilas,” said Compton.
“What if it gets split open bad? Calvin plays pretty hard, so he’s mouth is around elbows a lot. We couldn’t really jeopardize him.”
But the Aces obviously badly missed Abueva’s services. Aside from his norms of 12.4 points and 5.4 boards in the last five games, Alaska missed his energy. As a result, the team gave up 47 caroms.
For Compton, he now sees the need for him and the Aces to try and rake up the wins without their unquestioned leader, who will be with the national squad if ever he makes it to the final line-up for the upcoming SEABA cagefest.
“It’s our job – my job – to learn how to win without him when he can’t play. And we didn’t get it done today,” Compton rued.
But nevertheless, it was all about having Gilas in mind behind the decision. And for Compton, the organization is more than willing to help the Nationals in every way they can.
“We support the national team. Whatever they decide, we just react to it. That’s part of life. Every team’s doing it,” he said.
“It’s not a disadvantage. It’s called supporting the national team.”