UAAP Basketball

FEU won’t get in RJ Abarrientos, other players’ way

Naveen Ganglani
FEU won’t get in RJ Abarrientos, other players’ way

ROOKIE SENSATION. FEU's RJ Abarrientos debuts with a bang in the UAAP.


With the recent trend of young Filipino basketball players heading overseas, FEU thinks it’s the responsibility of collegiate programs to have backup plans

MANILA, Philippines – While the potential loss of RJ Abarrientos is heavy for an FEU team recuperating from a fourth-placed, 7-7 finish in the last UAAP men’s basketball season, the university won’t take efforts to halt his progression to the pro level, nor would they for any other Tamaraw. 

FEU athletic director Mark Molina told Rappler there is “nothing definite” yet on Abarrientos’ reported decision to sign with Korean Basketball League (KBL) team Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus, but indicated “there’s [been] an offer for quite some time already.”

“We should know for certain in a few days,” Molina said, adding that FEU is doing its due diligence on the offer and remains in touch with Abarrientos.

The highly anticipated UAAP debut of RJ, the nephew of PBA great Johnny Abarrientos, was impressive in Season 84. 

He averaged a team-high 13.8 points per contest while shooting 32% from downtown on high volume. He also recorded 4.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.1 steals a contest.

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RJ Abarrientos to join Korea league after one season with FEU – report

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Abarrientos’ abilities have drawn the attention of scouts from the KBL, where fellow Gilas Pilipinas standout and Ateneo playmaker SJ Belangel is also expected to make his pro-level debut.

“We never get in the way of players turning professional before completing their years of eligibility in the UAAP,” Molina shared. 

“Terrence Romeo, Alec Stockton, and Ken Tuffin are some examples. They all worked hard to be in a position to become professionals and we are happy for them.”

FEU, to their credit, was also supportive of high school standout Cholo Anonuevo when he decided to try his luck at basketball in the United States before returning to the Philippines, where his freshman season was cut short by injury.

Molina adds FEU is ready for life without RJ. The next UAAP basketball season is anticipated to begin in October. 

With recent trends indicating that young Filipino basketball talents may continue to seek greener pastures internationally, Molina believes it’s the responsibility of collegiate basketball programs to have backup plans in case their standouts depart earlier than expected.

“Producing elite athletes is the goal of our program, so this will happen again,” Molina said.

“This just means we need to develop a deeper pool so there will be new athletes ready to take bigger roles.”

With Abarrientos likely headed for Korea, there will be a bigger responsibility on Xyrus Torres and LJay Gonzales to carry the load for the Tams. –