Calvin Abueva has been playing an inspired performance, powering Magnolia to a perfect start in the early stretch of the Philippine Basketball Association.
Hotshots governor Rene Pardo said the 34-year-old forward had already mellowed down and shown a lot of maturity as he enters his 10th year in the league.
Known as the “Beast” for his all-out performance on both, Abueva was considered as a headcase for his on-court antics that irked his peers, fellow players, and the entire basketball community in general.
The last straw happened three years ago when he hit former TNT Tropang Giga import Terrence Jones that resulted to an indefinite suspension.
But after more than a year of sitting out, Abueva returned as a changed man and his transformation that led to his trade to the old Purefoods franchise was witnessed not just by his peers but also by those from the opposite side.
Pardo said everybody likes what they are seeing in the 6-foot-3 bruiser.
“He has changed a lot,” the long-time executive said, adding that even Abueva’s biggest rival in newly-appointed NLEX coach Frankie Lim noticed the change in Abueva’s attitude.
Pardo and Lim go a long way.
In fact, Lim played for Purefoods in 1993 and 1994, helping it win two titles before serving as one of the assistant coaches of Eric Altamirano that led to the 1997 All-Filipino Conference crown before moving to Mobiline as team executive.
Abueva and Lim share an on-court rivalry.
When Lim was coaching San Beda University, Abueva was the biggest thorn in his path as he powered San Sebastian College to the National Collegiate Athletic Association title in 2009.
Their on-court feud spilled over to the PBA as Lim got fined for hitting the pesky Abueva while coaching Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in 2015.
Aside from getting slapped with a P50,000 fine, Lim was also suspended for one game, which he served as soon as he got the marching order to coach the Road Warriors.
But everything is now a thing of the past, Pardo added.
“Prior to our game, while we were at the antigen area, I was talking to Frankie Lim. I haven’t seen Frankie in such a long time. He used to play for Purefoods and eventually became an assistant coach,” Pardo narrated.
“Calvin approached Frankie and shook his hand, saying ‘welcome back, Coach.’”
“I was so pleased with the action of Calvin and praised him how he transformed as a much better person. I told him how proud I am that he is on my team.”