Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) – October 27, 2020 – 12:00am

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY, Philippines — Phoenix rolled out the red carpet for the returning Calvin Abueva and laced it with a big win.

Feeding on the energy of “The Beast,” who’s finally back after a 16-month suspension, the Fuel Masters scored a gutsy 114-110 victory over NLEX last night in the PBA Philippine Cup.

Abueva gratefully plunged into action in his first game since June 2019 and did a little bit of everything in the bubble tourney’s lone Monday slate at the AUF Sports Arena Powered by Smart 5G.

He contributed in scoring (21), rebounding (13), assists (seven) and things not seen in the stats sheets while playing with “controlled aggression” to show he’s now a reformed man after going through the long ban.

“I really prepared hard for my first game (from suspension),” said Abueva, smiling underneath his face mask during his post-game interview as Player of the Game.

“My mindset was how to help the team win this game,” he added.

Phoenix picked up its fourth victory in six games while sending the Road Warriors down to 1-5.

Abueva scored 10 in the second half as he joined forces with Justin Chua and Matthew Wright in turning the tables around after NLEX seized a 14-point lead.

Wright topscored for Phoenix with 28 while Jason Perkins had 20. Chua and Jansen Rios added 19 and 10, respectively.

NLEX was led by Raul Soyud’s career-high 27.

Barangay Ginebra and Rain or Shine tangle tonight in an explosive matchup of teams raring to get back on track after tasting defeat for the first time inside the bubble.

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