|Calvin Abueva was not given a clearance to return this week, but this did not stop the Fuel Masters from competing. PBA Images (file photo)|
MANILA--Although he has only been with the lineup for the past two seasons, Calvin Abueva seemed to have found a home in Phoenix.
That is why for Coach Topex Robinson, the indefinite ban slapped by the PBA on him was a huge blow for the team.
Robinson, who previously coached Abueva in the 2011 San Sebastian team that won the PCCL title, likened his embattled star to a son who could not join his family for a certain event.
"It's really hard to leave the gym or hotel knowing that one of your sons is not with you," Robinson said on Friday night.
The hopes of PBA fans finally seeing Abueva back in action after 15 months of inactivity got a major boost when the league allowed him to enter the ongoing Angeles bubble.
Furthermore, the Games and Amusements Board gave him his professional license back after finishing a three-part seminar on the etiquette for a professional athlete and a mandatory drug test.
Many even thought Abueva would finally come back this week following a report from Spin.PH's Gerry Ramos.
But Abueva was not present in all the three matches the Fuel Masters played this week, implying that the ban remains in place at least for now.
This week is a crucial one for Phoenix as it faced unbeaten teams TNT and Ginebra as well as last year's Philippine Cup runner-up Magnolia.
The Fuel Masters fell prey to the Tropang Giga and the Barangay as they really felt Abueva's absence.
"It's really hard because he wants to play and he wants to contribute, but the best thing he could do is cheer for us," added Robinson, who suddenly went teary-eyed.
But according to him, even if Abueva has been relegated to a cheerer and, in a previous interview, Phoenix's resident "cook", he remains as the team's motivation.
"[He] is one of the big reasons for us to really not give up," Robinson further quipped. "He doesn't want to give up, so we always do it for Calvin."
The team never wavered on Friday night against Magnolia despite another huge deficit and used a fourth quarter storm to steal the win at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
[Related Story: Q4 blast lifts Phoenix over Magnolia]
And as already implied, Robinson dedicates the victory to Abueva.
"Winning it for Calvin is really big for us," Robinson further said.
He then vowed on behalf of his club, "We don't want to lose again and go back home knowing that Calvin wants to help us."
Despite turning emotional, Robinson said that he still supports Commissioner Willie Marcial on what he has in store for the betterment of the league, especially Abueva.
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