By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
STAR forward Calvin Abueva is headed to a new Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) team after he was traded to the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok on Wednesday.
In a surprise announcement, the league said the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters were shipping seven-time PBA All-Star Abueva to Magnolia in exchange for guard Chris Banchero and the Hotshots’ first (sixth overall) and second round (18th selection overall) picks in this year’s rookie draft.
Magnolia will be the third team for Mr. Abueva, 33, after stops with Alaska (2012-18) and Phoenix (2018 to 2020).
The deal also included Magnolia getting Phoenix’s first-round pick (10th) in the March 14 draft.
It was reportedly already approved by the league.
The trade came from left field considering Mr. Abueva had a stellar outing in the “bubble” tournament of the PBA last year, where he helped the Fuel Masters come within a win away from barging into their first-ever league finals appearance.
He rejoined the team after being suspended by the league for more than a year for conduct unbecoming of a professional.
In his return, he was still his all-around self, averaging 15.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.7 steals and was in the running for best player of the conference.
He also held his emotions in check throughout the tournament, even earning consideration for the sportsmanship award.
Phoenix repaid his efforts by re-signing him to a three-year contract in December.
Mr. Abueva said he appreciated the confidence given to him by Phoenix and vowed to help the franchise win a championship.
Then, the trade yesterday happened.
With Magnolia, Mr. Abueva reunites with fellow Pampanga native and San Sebastian teammate Ian Sangalang. The two, along with Ronald Pascual, formed the “Pinatubo Trio” for the Stags, which took the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) by storm and had them winning the NCAA title in 2009.
Mr. Abueva also shores up the Magnolia frontline, which includes Mr. Sangalang, Jackson Corpuz, Rome Dela Rosa, Aris Dionisio, and Rafi Reavis.
The team also has guards Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, and Justin Melton.
Magnolia said it welcomes the development and looking forward to Mr. Abueva filling its needs in the small forward position.
Mr. Banchero, meanwhile, saw his stay in Magnolia end after just a conference and
He was traded to the Hotshots from Alaska late in the 2019 season. In the lone PBA tournament last year, the former fifth overall rookie pick had averages of 10.8 points, 3.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds.
In Phoenix, Mr. Banchero, 32, joins a backcourt crew which has RJ Jazul, Brian Heruela, Alex Mallari, and Matthew Wright.
The Phoenix-Magnolia trade came just as the teams are girding for the deep pool of players in this year’s rookie draft.
A record of 97 aspirants have applied for the draft, consisting of standout collegiate and pro-am players and promising Fil-foreigners.