Phoenix Super LPG team manager Paolo Bugia admitted that although things happened quickly, the decision to transfer Calvin Abueva to Magnolia was not easy.
Photo from PBA IMAGES
But basketball is not the only thing that needs to be understood when it comes to Abueva.
“I’m sure everyone knows what Calvin has been through this past 20 months, the past year and a half as well as the team, what we’ve been through,” Bugia told Chasedown.
Bugia was referring to the 16-month suspension that Abueva went through due to the conflicts he was involved in on the court.
They are said to be very supportive of Abueva’s recovery who had to go through drug tests and psychotherapy before being allowed to play in the PBA anew.
“Through thick and thin, we stood by him. It was our focus to get him back on track and get him reinstated. And it was a very, very long process. It came to a point in the bubble where we finally got him on track, he was reinstated, and we are very happy with what he did and what he was able to accomplish,” said Bugia.
“He won an award, he was part of a team that brought us to the final four and na-nominate pa siya sa Sportsmanship Award. (We were) very proud of him,” he added.
But the Fuel Masters team manager also clarified that it does not end there. It is said that the surveillance of Abueva is almost round-the-clock to ensure that their award-winning power forward stays in order.
“That’s within the team lang na it was a continuous effort, 24/7, to make sure that he was focused, hindi siya bumalik sa dark places that he was in. And even well after the conference, after the bubble conference and into the offseason, continuous ‘yung effort, resources that we put into Calvin,” reiterated Bugia.
“We asked ourselves, was it worth it? Of course. We got a lot of success in the Philippine (Cup) bubble. It was worth that one conference,” he added.
But Bugia explained that Phoenix was not sure if they could still take care of Abueva.
“For a time, I think it was last month, we felt like we are ready to commit and we were ready to build a long-term relationship with him and we signed him for a long-term contract. The decision to sign him was ours and ours alone. And we really saw him grow. But then, nandoon pa rin yung time and effort, 24/7,” Bugia stressed.
He also said that many teams have offered a trade to get Abueva, especially after his good performance in the bubble.
But they rejected all of that because for them, “Calvin was still the better choice.”
Until Magnolia’s offer came to trade Chris Banchero with two draft picks.
“It’s no secret that Calvin is a very good basketball player, but it’s not just basketball with him. There are a lot of things and everybody knows that. It’s all over social media, it’s all over the news, and all that. And we embraced that for a long time until it fell on our lap the offer of Magnolia,” said Bugia.
“With that offer we got a superstar in his own right in Chris Banchero, something that we needed because we didn’t really have a pure point guard to take the pressure off Matt (Wright) sometimes,” he added.
“On top of that, we got a lottery pick, a sixth pick, in some would say the most talent-rich draft. If there was a time that made our decision easier, nagkataon it was this year that we made the decision to move forward and we finally focus on basketball (without) the extra baggage so to speak,” he continued.
He said the conversation was quick because the Hotshots’ offer was just right for them.
“It was a very quick deal. When the offer came to our lap, there was not much talk. There was no long incubation period, and no one got wind of it. I would say within the week, we were made aware of the offer, got the approval (from the higher-ups), got the thoughts of our coaches… When everything was OK, we consummated it,” Bugia said.
“As a consolation, we know that Calvin is going to a good team and we wish him the best of luck. Everybody loves the popular team of Magnolia. So we know that he is in good hands with that franchise,” he added.