With seconds left during Game 3 of the PBA Philippine Cup championship series Wednesday night and the game already won, Alaska’s controversial forward Calvin Abueva went down on his knees, his head touching the floor, and covered his face with his hands.
It was his way of expressing relief after another mind-boggling comeback by the Alaska Aces of which he was the chief architect.
The 78-70 victory over San Miguel Beer gave them a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven championship series.
“Ang sarap ng feeling,” Abueva said.
His performance was vintage Abueva. The guy has been pilloried, attacked and slammed for “playing dirty,” but Abueva appeared unaffected by the criticism. In fact, he appeared to thrive from it.
Just think that hours before another of his beastly performance, the one-time NCAA MVP was fined by the PBA commissioner for committing four infractions in Game 2 where Alaska lost.
Alaska’s win in Game 3 marked the second time that Abueva and company rallied back from a 20-point deficit in the title series.
Wednesday’s Game 1 saw San Miguel Beer building a 22-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but Alaska inched its way back to escape with an 88-82 overtime victory.
In Game 3, SMB led by as many as 21 points late in the third quarter, and was still ahead by 18 points (64-46) to start the final frame.
But the energetic Abueva led Alaska on a 20-1 run capped by Chris Exciminiano’s two free throws that gave them a 66-65 lead with 4:57 left to play.
In that Alaska blitzkrieg, the Aces held the Beermen to 1-of-15 shooting from the field, outrebounded the opposition 21 to 8, and forced six turnovers while committing none. (Waylon Galvez)