MANILA, Philippines -- While he is relishing his return to the PBA, Calvin Abueva is also making sure that he stays on an even keel.
Abueva played in a PBA game for the first time in 16 months on Monday night, when he steered the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters to a hard-earned 114-110 win over the NLEX Road Warriors.
In his return from a suspension given in June 2019, Abueva put up 21 points with 13 rebounds and seven assists. He scored a crucial bucket with 44 seconds to go that kept the Road Warriors at bay, and grabbed the final rebound of the game before dribbling out the clock with a wide smile.
"Hindi ko sinasabi na bagong Calvin," said Abueva during an appearance on "2OT," also on Monday night. "Ang ginagawa ko lang, kung paano 'yung effort."
"Kasi sa matagal na panahon na 'di ako nakapaglaro, 'yung lesson na naka-create sa akin ay kung paano ako makapaglaro ng maayos," he said.
With Abueva emerging as the Best Player of the Game, the Fuel Masters improved to 4-2 and rose to the upper half of the All-Filipino Cup standings.
Their next opponent is familiar to Abueva and head coach Topex Robinson -- the Alaska Aces.
Robinson was a longtime assistant for the Aces, and Abueva played for them from 2012 to 2018, until he was acquired by Phoenix in a trade.
"Excited (ako). Always naman pagka sila kalaban, lalong excited, kasi we have (players) sa amin na galing sa kanila," said Abueva, who noted that RJ Jazul also played several seasons for the Alaska franchise.
"(Pero) laging sinasabi ni coach na maging focused lang sa lahat," he added. "Kasi, one at a time eh. 'Di naman pagka nanalo ka ng isang beses, celebrate mo na, para ka ng champion."
"Hindi eh -- elimination pa lang 'to," he stressed. "Wala ka pa sa totally na goal na gusto mong puntahan. Kaya one at a time ang ginagawa namin ngayon."
Abueva has made it clear that he intends to play his best in every game, in the hopes of pushing the Fuel Masters as far as they can go in the conference.
"Sabi ko nga, I'll give my best na kung hanggang saan lang tayo, 'yun 'yung ano natin. Pero ang akin, hindi lang doon eh. Ako mas gusto ko pa higitan, kung saan man kami mapunta," he said.