Calvin Abueva participated Thursday in his first practice with the Phoenix Pulse at the Upper Deck Sports Center in Pasig. Abueva is currently serving an indefinite suspension for a string of incidents including a June 2 on-court altercation with TNT import Terrence Jones.
Abueva is still barred from playing in any games, participated in team drills and was involved in 5-on-5 scrimmages. Abueva stayed after practice for additional work.
Abueva said he wants to turn over a new leaf if he is allowed to return to the active roster. The enigmatic forward said his run-in with Jones at the Ynares Center in Antipolo is always on his mind.
"How to avoid the same incident and to improve myself from being branded as a dirty player," Abueva told reporters in Filipino Thursday afternoon. "What people saw then in me inside as a player, I aim to change that, show it for the better."
Though PBA commissioner Willie Marcial approved Abueva's request to return to practice, Abueva doesn't expect to return to the court any time soon.
"I'm making up for lost time and effort. I plan to return to what I was. The things that happened to me in the past two conferences. Now, I can return to the level of play which I had then," Abueva said.
He will be meeting with Marcial after they return from the PBA games in Dubai next week.
"Actually, [Marcial] told me that he does not want me to lag behind my teammates [in terms of game shape] once I get suddenly reinstated. I don't want to start all over again," said Abueva. "It's much better that I asked [Marcial] whether I could join practice so that I could retain my physique. At least if I return, it will be seamless."
Marcial did not give specifics on a timeline for Abueva's return to the active roster but indicated a return was not imminent.
"He told me, 'Commissioner, I'm gaining weight. Maybe you could allow me.' I said sure, he can practice but he can't play in any tune-ups or anything. Just practice. Get in condition," Marcial said. "But him being allowed to practice doesn't mean he's allowed to come back. This is still going to be a long discussion."
Phoenix head coach Louie Alas said he does not plan to work Abueva into any immediate game plans.
"I couldn't plan it yet since if I include him now, then at the end of the day, he's not yet here. He's just practicing with us, just in case, we will not have a difficult time in incorporating him," Alas said in Filipino to the reporters.
According to team manager Paolo Bugia, the PBA did not set specific parameters regarding Abueva's eventual reinstatement.
"Helping out the community in his small ways will only help his case. He has been doing these on the side and will be continuing to do so in the weeks to come," Bugia said via text message to ESPN5. "I don't know [how long has he been serving], because he has been doing them on his own time -- something which shows his sincerity in these activities. I don't think the PBA tallies the exact time but they are definitely monitoring him, especially on social media and other similar channels."
ESPN5.com's Eros Villanueva contributed to this report.