MANILA, Philippines -- Although he is now allowed to once again play in the PBA, Phoenix Super LPG forward Calvin Abueva is still being observed not just by the league but also by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
Abueva's professional license was reinstated last October 15, after completing his requirements from GAB. On Sunday, the PBA formally lifted his suspension after 16 months, paving the way for his return on Monday night against NLEX.
In his first competitive game in over a year, Abueva put up 21 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists in a 114-110 win for the Fuel Masters.
GAB chairman Baham Mitra, who watched his first game, said they held their breath when Abueva was called for an offensive foul in his first play of the game.
"Sabi ko, 'Ops, ano kaya ito,'" Mitra said during an appearance on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
"But as you can see, I think given the chance, he can excel eh. And you can relate to him, he's been very honest with the situation," he added.
Abueva shrugged off the early turnover as well as some missed shots to start the game, eventually finding his rhythm. He made six of his 14 attempts from the field, including a clutch layup with 44 seconds to go.
While Mitra was glad to see Abueva make his long-awaited return, he also noted that the license given to "The Beast" is provisional. Essentially, Abueva is under a six-month probationary period, after which GAB intends to check up on him and see how he is doing.
"Naibalik na 'yung lisensya na, and we just want to see him again, one more time, six months from now, we will observe and see kung talagang ano," Mitra said.
"We just want another chance, six months from now, para lang ba sure tayo na maayos na, 'di ba," he explained. "And it's a conditional approval."
Abueva, for his part, vowed to be more focused in his return, and to avoid the extra-curricular activities that got him into trouble in the first place. His goal, he stressed repeatedly, is to help Phoenix Super LPG rise to the top.
"Hindi nabago 'yung numbers at statistics ko sa game," he told Selina Dagdag in an interview on One Sports, Wednesday. "Ang nabago sa akin, kung papaano ako makitungo sa players, sa coaches, sa management, at lalo na sa mga fans ng PBA."
"At ang laking bagay, ang laking lesson sa akin na matutunan ko 'yun, na dumating sa pagkakataon na uy, ayos palang ganito, parang chill ka lang, na wala kang kinakatakutan. Wala kang kinakatakutan pero 'yung lakas ng loob mo, nandoon lang sa court, 'yung focus mo, 'yung body language mo, nasa court lang," he added.