Has Calvin Abueva done enough to be Rookie-of-the-Year?

This same article appears on PBA.Inquirer.net.

For the better part of the 2012-2013 PBA season, Alaska's Calvin Abueva has been the standard when it comes to this set of pro neophytes. His performances in the first two conferences have served to bolster his cause, of course, and it all peaked when he helped lead the Aces to the 2013 Commissioner's Cup title via sweep over the Ginebra Gin Kings.

Is Calvin Abueva a lock for the 2012-2013 PBA ROY?
(image by Paolo Papa/InterAKTV)

By and large, the former San Sebastian Golden Stag has been a man among boys, at least when ranged against most of his peers. Fellow 2012 PBA Draft first-rounders like Alex Mallari, Chris Ellis, Vic Manuel, and Chris Tiu have all had their moments, but none of those guys ever made an impact as indelible as Abueva’s. And, well, nobody really got under the skin of foes and fans alike so memorably. Heck, even other first-rounders like Aldrech Ramos, Keith Jensen, and Jason Deutchmann have barely made any ripple. Second round draftee Emman Monfort made more of an impression than any of those three. The fact is, up until this conference, Abueva had been heads and shoulders above the competition for ROY.

There is that teeny tiny qualifier in that sentence, though -- UP UNTIL THIS CONFERENCE.

If one checks out the stats this conference among rookies, one will find that Abueva still impresses with 8.6 points, 9 rebounds, and close to 3 assists per game. That’s a near double-double for the 2012 second overall pick despite the fact he has two other quality guys on the team who play pretty similarly (or at least similar positions) to how he does – import Wendell McKines and Cyrus Baguio. Abueva’s minutes took a hit, too. He played upwards of 27 minutes a game in the first two conferences, and played a little less than that (roughly 24 minutes per) in Alaska’s eleven Govs’ Cup games.

If one would range his conference stats alongside those of two other marquee rookies, however, one would be compelled to say that the ROY contest is no longer a one-horse-race. Take a look at the following table comparing key stats of Abueva with 2012 top pick June Mar Fajardo (Petron Blaze) and fourth pick Cliff Hodge (Meralco).

Points per game
Rebounds per game
Assists per game
Minutes per game
Player Efficiency Rating
How well did the team do?
Alaska was eliminated by San Mig Coffee in the Quarterfinals
Petron Blaze is now in the Finals against San Mig Coffee
Meralco was eliminated by San Mig Coffee in the Semifinals
*The statistics are taken from PBA-Online.net.

It’s clear that, despite playing fewer minutes compared to earlier in the season and compared to both Fajardo and Hodge, Abueva is still able to hold his own in terms of scoring and rebounding, though he does rank below both Fajardo and Hodge when it comes to Player Efficiency. Why is this? Well, for one, Abueva turned the ball over nearly 3 times per game, and he shot just 56% from the free throw line. Naturally, those dismal numbers will tend to pull one’s efficiency rating down quite significantly. Also, though the man nicknamed “The Beast” shot a reasonably respectable 41% from the field, both Fajardo and Hodge did better. Hodge was a little bit more accurate at 43%, while Fajardo has become a deadly finisher, making 58% of his attempts.

So what does all this number-crunching reveal?


June Mar Fajardo and Cliff Hodge have gained significant ground in the ROY race, but the really interesting issue is have they gained enough ground to actually catch up, or has Calvin Abueva done enough throughout the entire season to ensure he cops the coveted freshman’s prize?

If we use the “it’s all about one’s whole body of work for the season” mindset, then perhaps handing Abueva the ROY plum won’t come as a surprise at all. If anything, it’s a foregone conclusion, but, especially considering how Fajardo helped Gilas Pilipinas qualify to the 2014 FIBA World Cup and how his team is favored to win the Govs’ Cup title, a blindside from the Kracken might not be too farfetched as well.

Enzo Flojo is new here on the PBA site, but he has been writing about all things basketball for quite some time now. You can read more of his stuff on his nationally-recognized blog, HoopNut.com, on the college hoops site, Inboundpass.com, or you can follow him on Twitter -- @HoopNut.

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1 Comment

was almost convinced until this: "especially considering how Fajardo helped Gilas Pilipinas qualify to the 2014 FIBA World Cup and how his team is favored to win the Govs’ Cup title." The first is against what my eyes saw, the second highly speculative.