MANILA, Philippines – Calvin Abueva’s integration into the Magnolia system is unfolding as smoothly as possible with head coach Chito Victolero easily finding roles for the polarizing forward.
Victolero said Abueva’s versatility has been his biggest trait with the 6-foot-2 forward capable of fitting into whatever scheme the Hotshots have put him in.
“He’s adapting quickly not just because he’s a veteran, but because he can play in various positions,” Victolero said in Filipino. “He’s always been a versatile player since he was a rookie and that trait stuck with him now that we have him.”
Abueva, who ended his nearly two-year suspension last season, was traded to the Phoenix Hotshots for point guard Chris Banchero in what was considered a surprising transaction in February.
Banchero was an integral part of Victolero’s three-point lineups, averaging 10.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Meanwhile, Abueva was in top form when he scored 15.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.7 steals for the Fuel Masters with his rebounding and assists marks coming in second and third in the league, respectively.
“He’s quickly adapting to our offense and has always had good basketball instincts,” Victolero said. “Still, there would be adjustments to his teammates and it is our practices that would help him do that.”
Magnolia has been training in the city of Batangas for the past few weeks and it is in these daily practices that Victolero saw how much Abueva missed playing with his college teammate and Pampanga native Ian Sangalang.
The two were part of San Sebastián’s famous Pinatubo Trio alongside Ronald Pascual in the early 2010s, and Abueva and Sangalang won MVP honors in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
“When they see each other, they are always joking in Kapampangan, but when paired in scrimmages, they compete hard against each other,” Victolero said.
However, it is not only Sangalang who already has experience playing with Abueva.
Jio Jalalon, Paul Lee, and Mark Barroca were teammates with Abueva earlier in the Gilas program, which made Victolero’s job of building team chemistry that much easier.
“Jio has played with Calvin before, also with Mark and Paul. They were all Gilas’ companions, ”Victolero said. Basketball is like friendship, you just need to make eye contact and you will know what to do. “
“Our goal right now is to be the number one team in terms of chemistry.”
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