After a chance three years ago with Univeristy of Santo Tomas, Rhenz Abando finally got the championship he had sought for.
However, it was in a different league and under UST’s sister school.
The 24-year-old native of Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan led Colegio de San Juan de Letran to the NCAA Season 97 Seniors Basketball Championship on Sunday.
“Sobrang saya sa feeling kasi ilang taon na ako, nakapag-champion pa rin ako,” said Abando, the league’s Most Valuable Player who averaged 15.58 points, 6.83 rebounds, 1.67 assists, and 1.33 blocks per game in his first season with the Knights.
“Sobrang saya kasi di naman yun nagawa sa previous school namin. Siyempre sa sarili ko, sobrang saya kasi first championship ko to sa college kasi si Brent [Paraiso] nag-champion naman na sa La Salle,” he continued.
“Sobrang saya ko kasi binigay din sa akin ito ng teammates ko, alam nilang gusto ko mag-champion talaga kasi di pa ako nagcha-champion.”
Definitely, Abando has cemented himself as one of the top collegiate players in the country today.
But it’s not just Philippine Basketball Association teams who are keeping a close eye on Abando in preparation for next year’s rookie draft.
According to multiple sources closely monitoring the situation, Abando is also being recruited by Korean Basketball League club Changwon LG.
The Sakers were able to get a close look at Abando during the semifinals of the NCAA last May 8.
Three Changwon LG officials were able to scout talent here from May 6-8, watching Game Two of the Filbasket Summer Championship Finals between San Juan and Nueva Ecija, the Letran-Perpetual Help semis clash, and Game One of the UAAP Season 84 Men’s Basketball Finals between Ateneo and University of the Philippines.
Out of all the players they saw, it was the 6-foot-2 highflyer Abando who they were interested in the most.
“Bago ako pumunta dito, sabi ko sa sarili ko na ipapakita kong di nagkamali yung coaches at mga bosses [Alfrancis Chua, Waiyip Chong, and Bonnie Tan] na kinuha nila ako,” said Abando. “Gusto ko lang patunayan sa sarili ko na kaya ko ring mag-champion pagkatapos maging runner-up lagi.
“Minsan lang kasi mangyari ‘yung three-peat kaya gusto ko ibigay ‘yon sa Letran. Siyempre sa tulong din ng mga teammates and ng coaches ko.”