MANILA, Philippines – TNT import Terrence Jones found himself up close and personal with Phoenix's Calvin Abueva on Sunday night, as their teams tangled for the first time in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
They defended each other several times, and to no one's surprise, the match-up became increasingly physical. Abueva dropped to the court with 7:25 left to play, and accused Jones of hitting him in the crotch. A possession later, Abueva retaliated by clotheslining the former NBA player after Jones tried to go for a loose ball.
Video courtesy of ESPN 5
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Abueva, who was already sitting on one technical foul, was thrown out of the game for a flagrant foul penalty 2. Jones finished the contest, putting up 40 points as TNT routed Phoenix, 114-88.
Afterward, the former Houston Rocket made light of Abueva's antics all throughout the game.
"He's a funny guy. He likes to, you know, get the crowd involved and I like the entertainment part of it," said Jones, who also had 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals in a well-rounded performance.
"But you know," he added, "he's lucky his teammates got him away from me when they did, you know."
He stressed that he didn't low-blow Abueva, as the Phoenix forward claimed.
"He leaned over me and, you know, used the tactic to try to flop a little bit and pretty much acted a little bit," said Jones. "You can go back and watch the film. I know I didn't put my hands towards any man's groin area."'
As for Abueva's clothesline that dropped him, Jones said: "I don't think it was basketball-related."
The incidents in the fourth quarter were the finishing touches in what had been a truly eventful game. Only three minutes had gone by in the first frame when the first scuffle between TNT and Phoenix erupted, leading to the eruption of Phoenix coach Louie Alas, TNT consultant Mark Dickel, TNT players Anthony and David Semerad, and Phoenix forward Jason Perkins.
Jones said he told his teammates to stick together regardless of the physical, heated nature of the game.
"We don't have coach, we don’t have two starting guards right now, but let’s, you know, move forward and just believe in ourselves and keep executing the plans we have before the game started," he said.
The target of several hard fouls and cheap shots all game long, Jones said he is working to be better at dealing with his situation. He learned plenty of lessons from their de to NorthPort last week, where he was limited to 17 points in a 110-86 defeat.
"Last game, when we lost, I let it get to me and I started, you know, not playing my game and I wanted to just really work on that tonight and make sure that anything got under my skin and just play with my team," he admitted.
Thus, even as he stressed that Abueva's clothesline was far from a basketball play, he was quick to calm down upon the urging of his coaches and teammates.
"It's been happening to me all season long," said Jones, who had to get his lip iced afterward. "I'm just finding out, you know, to keep my composure."
"Coach has been talking to me about, you know, just staying focused on the plays and not letting any of that get to me, and that's what I've just been working on," he added.
At the end of the day, Jones takes comfort in the result of the game.
"You know, the game's fun," he said. "I enjoy getting that win."
"That was what's most important to me – that's winning."
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