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Tiebreaker Times

2021 FIBA Asia Cup

RJ Abarrientos allays fears on injury: ‘Nothing to worry’

JAKARTA – RJ Abarrientos assured that he’s all fit to play as Gilas Pilipinas takes on India to shoot for its first win in the FIBA Asia Cup 2022.

The 5-foot-11 guard twisted his right ankle during one of their first practices here but said that he has recovered well enough to play at maximum health against the Young Cagers, who, like them, are also gunning to break through.

“Ngayon, medyo nakapag-pahinga ako, itong India game, nothing to worry,” he said.

“Fully recovered na talaga, 100-percent kaya ko maglaro.”

Abarrientos did play through the pain when the Filipino dribblers battled Lebanon in their debut Wednesday but was visibly hobbling at times.

“Nung first game hindi naman siya ganun ka-worse, pero iniisip ko kasi, parang mentally kayang-kaya ko naman e so talagang nilaro ko,” he recalled. “Pero ilang minutes pa lang, ilang sprint parang nagiging ano yung paa ko.”

The 22-year-old gunner played for just three minutes, and his services were definitely missed as Gilas absorbed a 95-80 at the hands of the Cedars.

But now, he’s made sure to be there for his side Friday without any restriction whatsoever, keen to help Gilas field a complete 12-man lineup and not add another name to quite a lengthy injury list.

“I’m happy to help them kasi sobrang kulang din kami and then ilang guards din yung nagpapalitan. Isa sa mga iniisip din namin is yung nangyari kay Thirdy, ‘yung bagsak niya, so mas kailangan namin may mag-step up.”

Gilas is facing a team it’s been familiar with, having beaten them in the recent World Cup Qualifiers window in Manila. That, however, doesn’t make Abarrientos and Co. any confident for Friday’s match.

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India, for sure, is coming in not just with vengeance, but with the hunger to get win no. 1 after being blown out by New Zealand in their debut.

“Yes. Must-win. Kailangan namin tong game na ‘to. Pero sa’min as a team, hindi kami dapat maging kumpiyansa,” said the Ulsan Hyundai-bound cager.

“Gawin pa rin namin ‘yung pinapagawa ng coaches. Maging better as a team, mag-stick kami together; kahit na mag-off kami offensively, ‘yung defense kailangan ‘di mawala. ‘Yung effort namin, kailangan buhos per quarter.”

Catch Gilas’ games in the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup live on GigaPlay. Download it now on Android or IOS.

Highlights of the games will also be on SMART Sports.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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