MANILA, Philippines – After seeing Rhenz Abando surpass expectations in his UAAP debut, University of Santo Tomas (UST) head coach Aldin Ayo recalled that his 'probinsyano connection' to the rookie must've attracted him to join the Growling Tigers.
"Siguro ‘yung pagigigng probinsyano ko," Ayo said when asked what made Abando choose UST.
"Pare-parehas kami ng background eh and pare-parehas kami nahohome sick sa pamilya namin. Halos nandoon ako sa UST kaya every time na kailangan ng kasama, we go out. Makakarelate ka kasi. And karamihan ng players ko mga probinsyano and we have that kind of bond."
(Maybe it's because I'm from the province as well. We have the same background and we both get home sick from being away from our families. I'm always in UST, so every time he needs a companion, we go out. I can relate to the players since most of them are from the provinces and we have that kind of bond.)
Ayo even revealed that he pursued Abando – who opened UST's campaign with a game-high 22 points on top of 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals – since he was still coaching the Letran Knights in 2015.
The UST head coach met the La Union native as he wass among the wards of Christian Calaguio, who was Ayo's college teammate when Letran won the NCAA basketball title in 1998.
Aside from his athleticism and skills, it is ultimately Abando's attitude that made Ayo believe that he would be a good fit in the team.
"Kung nakikita niyo ang laro ni Rhenz, he's very talented pero alam niya kung anong kulang niya at dapat trabahuin niya," added Ayo.
(If you see how Rhenz plays, he's very talented, but he knows what he lacks and he will work on it.)
"Rhenz is a breadwinner, so when you have that player, you don't have to motivate him. They're playing for their families and their community."
After getting off to a good start over the University of the East Red Warriors, Ayo hopes that Abando's performance will inspire his 8 other rookies to step up to the challenge.
The Growling Tigers will tangle with last year's runners-up University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons on Saturday, September 7, 4 pm, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.