MANILA, Philippines – Phoenix has its fingers crossed that Calvin Abueva will return to the PBA hardcourt soon after nearly 9 months of serving his indefinite suspension.
Fuel Masters team governor Raymond Zorrilla believes Abueva has "learned his lesson" as he continues to pay the price for his on-court antics that ultimately led the PBA to punish him in July last year.
"I have several instances when I talk with Calvin. I think sincerity-wise, good faith-wise, he has shown that he has learned his lesson," said Zorrilla during the presser for the 45th PBA season on Tuesday, February 25.
"He has been suspended since July. It is a drain on his salary and finances. I don't think he will again put his family at risk."
Although he has been practicing with Phoenix, the enigmatic forward has not received his salary since his suspension.
But according to Zorrilla, that has not prevented Abueva from doing corporate social responsibility activities, the latest of which was helping the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption last January.
Meanwhile, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial – who meted out the suspension – said Abueva still has to iron out a number of things.
"When all of those things are fixed, I will elevate my recommendation to the board," Marcial said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Since acquiring Abueva in 2018, the Fuel Masters immediately turned into a contender as they made back-to-back playoff appearances, once as a No. 1 seed.
But they plunged to the bottom of the standings as soon as Abueva was suspended, failing to reaching the quarterfinals in the last two conferences last season.
"We are undermanned. We have 3 or 4 guys in the injured list and an additional Calvin Abueva would be a very, very big help for us. We are very positive. We are hoping for his immediate return," Zorrilla said.
Phoenix will open the Philippine Cup against TNT on March 11.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.