The Beast's national team comeback was five years in the making.
"Ibang [Calvin] Abueva na."
That's the short but strong statement of Calvin Abueva on his return to Gilas Pilipinas after five years of missing national team duties.
Don't get it wrong, though. The pride of Pampanga is not turning down the on-court intensity that has long defined his basketball career. Not a chance. Not even close. Abueva is, instead, talking about his maturity.
"Kung ano 'yung pwedeng itulong sa team, 'yun ang itutulong," Abueva said in an article published in the PBA's website.
"Kung ano 'yung puwedeng idagdag pa, siguro pwedeng idagdag natin," The Beast added.
Abueva last played for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. In total, Abueva has played 27 games for Gilas in FIBA-sanctioned tournaments, submitting career averages of of 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. That's not to mention the countless times he boxed out giants and the numerous times he jostled for position against players bigger and heftier than him.
Coach Tim Cone and Gilas will need Abueva's tenacity as they try to go deep in the Asian Games. Cone himself admitted that the national team will face a tough test against Bahrain, Thailand, and Jordan in the group stage. And despite a depleted lineup missing more than half of the FIBA World Cup roster, Abueva and veteran Terrence Romeo—who is also making a Gilas comeback like The Beast—are confident of their squad.
Gilas begins its Asian Games campaign on September 26 against Bahrain, before taking on Thailand on September 28. It will conclude the group phase with a date versus Jordan on September 30.