Japan B. League

Learning curve continues for RJ Abarrientos after ‘rough’ B. League season

Martin Mendoza

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Learning curve continues for RJ Abarrientos after ‘rough’ B. League season

STILL GRINDING. Shinshu guard RJ Abarrientos in action in the Japan B. League.


After a stellar Rookie of the Year campaign in the Korean Basketball League, RJ Abarrientos struggles in his first season in the Japan B. League with the Shinshu Brave Warriors

MANILA, Philippines – Coming off a stellar Rookie of the Year campaign with the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus in the Korean Basketball League (KBL), all eyes were on RJ Abarrientos when he made the surprise jump to the Japan B. League at the start of the 2023-2024 season.

However, Abarrientos did not have the same success in the Land of the Rising Sun as his B1 team, the Shinshu Brave Warriors, finished the regular season second to the last with a lowly 10-50 record. 

The former FEU Tamaraws star was also limited to only 7.8 points on 34.7% shooting in 49 games for Shinshu after putting up close to 14 markers for Ulsan during the 2022-2023 KBL season. 

“Very rough season for our team, especially for me, individually,” Abarrientos told reporters during the B. League finals viewing party at the Mall of Asia Music Hall. 

“But there were a lot of learnings. I’m looking forward to the next season,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino. 

Abarrientos, the one and only Filipino Asian Quota import to have played in both the KBL and Division 1 of the B. League, acknowledged that the style of play in both leagues are very different. 

“Just in terms of the [world] imports, only one can play at a time in Korea, while in Japan, you can play with two on the floor at the same time,” said Abarrientos in Filipino.

“The imports in Japan are also bigger and the locals are not like just ordinary locals, but even better,” he continued.

Abarrientos is still unsure of his next career move as his contract with Shinshu is set to expire at the end of the season, but the 5-foot-11 guard is eager to improve on his leadership skills as a floor general moving forward. 

The 24-year-old Abarrientos averaged just 2.4 assists in his first season in the B. League, a dip from his 4.8 output in the KBL.

“As a point guard, generally you have to be a leader for your team,” said Abarrientos.

“For me, as a point guard, you shouldn’t just improve on your skills, but also your communication with the coaches and players. That’s what I think I have to improve on.” – Rappler.com

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