Abueva returns with Phoenix

Action heats up in the PBA Season 45 Philippine Cup in Angeles, Pampanga as Calvin “The Beast” Abueva returns after a 16-month layoff while a player of the Blackwater Elite was taken out of the “bubble” after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Brian Heruela of Phoenix shoots against Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang in the game between the Fuel Masters and Hotshots in the PBA Season 45 Philippine Cup at the AUF Sports Arena and Cultural Center in Angeles, Pampanga on Oct. 23, 2020. Also seen in the photo are Magnolia’s Justin Melton and Jackson Corpuz, and Phoenix’s Matthew Wright. PBA MEDIA BUREAU PHOTO

The announcement was made on Sunday morning while basketball fans await the 6:45 p.m. Manila Clasico between the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings and the Magnolia Hotshots.

Phoenix Super LPG and Abueva were both happy as the PBA Commissioner’s Office finally lifted the indefinite suspension of the 6’3 do-it-all forward.

Abueva, who was slapped with an indefinite suspension for his clothesline on TNT import Terrence Jones and a verbal altercation with Ray Parks’ girlfriend, will return to play in his hometown Pampanga — without a cheering crowd — at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) Sports Arena and Cultural Center.

Phoenix, under new mentor Topex Robinson, is No. 4 after winning three of its five games two weeks into the restarted season.

The Fuel Masters erased a 17-point deficit to pull off a come-from-behind 89-80 win over the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok last Friday.

Robinson said after the game that the win was dedicated to Abueva, who was present every team practice since the PBA “bubble” tournament kicked off last October 11. He is counting on Abueva to provide energy to the team, especially in the payoff period.

The reason [we lost] during those games [was] because that’s what we are missing from Calvin. The energy, and that’s what the team provided us during that fourth quarter. You see everybody cheering because we know that if Calvin is on the bench, he will do the same,” said Robinson.

Matthew Wright has been delivering for the Fuel Masters, averaging 25 points per outing including a 36-point output in their first game to pace Phoenix in this All-Filipino tournament.

Meanwhile, the 4 p.m. game between the Elite (2-3) and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (3-1) will be rescheduled after one Blackwater player was sent to New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac for isolation after testing positive for Covid-19. The player will again undergo antigen and RT-PCR swab tests.

Following health protocol, the Elite and the TNT Tropang Giga (5-0), whom they played with last October 22 will be quarantined in their hotel rooms.

This was the second probable positive Covid-19 case inside the “bubble” after a referee tested positive for the virus last week. Confirmatory tests on the referee yielded negative results.

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