RJ Abarrientos had no intention of leaving Far Eastern University after the UAAP wars had just ended.
However, one team was so persistent in getting his services — Ulsan Hyundai Mobis.
So when the talks got serious in early June, he listened. And the first-year Tamaraw eventually liked what he heard.
“Actually, last month pa nila ako kinakausap but for me po, hindi po ako nagbigay ng trust kung san man team o offer,” recalled Abarrientos to Radyo5’s Power and Play. “Mga a couple of weeks ago, mas naging eager sila na kumontact sa akin. Nakita ko yung effort ng team at kung paano sila makipag-converse sa akin at sa agent ko.
“Mas nakita ko simula nun na maglaro sa pros.”
Tough was the decision of Abarrientos to leave FEU after spending almost a decade there.
Despite being a hotshot prospect coming out of FEU-Diliman, the 5-foot-11 spitfire guard chose to remain in FEU.
Abarrientos though needed to take a look at the bigger picture.
“Unang-unang tumatak sa akin yung opportunity na binibigay sa akin ni God, tinake ko na. Tapos yung family ko rin kasi as early as now, gusto ko na tumulong sa family ko. Hindi naging madali na iwan ko yung FEU. Dito po ako since high school ako at yung community, ang hirap i-give up. Hindi ko lang mabitawan tong opportunity na ito for my family,” the 22-year-old said.
“Matagal ko na itong pangarap, simula pa lang ng high school ako. Sabi ko nun, once may mag-offer sa akin na international pro league, kukunin ko yung chance na yun at magpapaalam ako ng maayos sa FEU. Nakaka-sad man, ito na talaga yung true life sa basketball.”
There will be a lot of adjustments for Abarrientos as he not only moves out of the confines of FEU but also the country.
This early, the second-generation cager is already preparing himself not just physically but also mentally as he moves away from home.
Asked if he had plans to join the PBA one day, the nephew of PBA great Johnny said that it’s his “dream” to one day be part of the league.
But as of now, he plans on applying his craft in the KBL for as long as teams want him.
“Hopefully, magtagal ako sa KBL.”