MANILA, Philippines – In just 3 games, Rhenz Abando has already proven himself to be an important cog in the UST Growling Tigers system.
Thanks to his great mix of freak athleticism and soft touch from the field, the rookie prospect from La Union quickly turned heads of fans and opposing players alike.
That includes two-time Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena, who led Ateneo to a 71-70 squeaker win over UST in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday, September 11.
In fact, the league veteran was so impressed that he gave Abando two pairs of new Nike shoes after the game.
“Honestly, I knew it was coming. It’s just a matter of everyone seeing it,” Ravena said of Abando’s sensational debut.
“I already knew there’s something different in him. He had the determination and the willingness to play and perform is just on a different level. Those kinds of players, special players, you just know right away. I’m not that surprised.”
RESPECT— SLAM PH (@SLAMonlineph) September 11, 2019
After UST defeated Ateneo in the PBA D-League, @ThirdyRavenaaa asked for @AbandoRhenz’s shoe size. Earlier after their game in the UAAP, Thirdy gave Rhenz pairs of the Zoom Freak 1 and the Jordan Mars 270. pic.twitter.com/rll1E0glzq
Abando was such a huge part of UST’s early success that he was awarded the season’s first Player of the Week award after averaging 19 points and 5.5 rebounds.
“Honestly, yung athleticism niya, yung willingness niya, yung shooting niya, ang hirap na mix nun,” Ravena continued.
“Kita mo sa laro niya na he just wants to play, just like nakikita ko kay [UST rookie] Mark Nonoy. Gusto lang nilang maglaro. Wala silang ibang iniisip kung hindi basketball. Maganda panoorin ‘yun pero mas mahirap bantayan. That’s what makes them special.
“Para sa akin, ‘yun ang essence ng pagiging competitive. Yun ang masaya pag nakakilala ka ng player na ganoon, mafo-force ka pa lalo na ibigay mo yung lahat.”
(Honestly, his athleticism, willingness, and shooting – it’s a tough mix to guard. You can see in his game that he just wants to play, just like what I see from UST rookie Mark Nonoy. They just want to play. They don’t think about anything except basketball. It’s nice to see but a pain to guard. That’s what makes them special. For me that’s the essence of being competitive. That’s what’s nice when you meet players like that. They force you to give your all.)
While Abando did not go home with the win for today, he went home with something more important: a champion’s respect. The shoes are just a cool bonus. – Rappler.com
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