Just like everyone else, Daegu KOGAS’s SJ Belangel and Ulsan Hyundai’s RJ Abarrientos were surprised that Rhenz Abando signed with Anyang KGC.
Even if they were with the 24-year-old native of La Union, the two Gilas guards had no inkling that he was about to sign with an overseas team, let alone a Korean Basketball Association club.
But of course, they are more than happy to have Abando with them on this new journey in their young lives.
“Super happy kasi hindi lang sa RJ yung manlilibre sa ‘kin dun, si Rhenz na rin,” joked 23-year-old Belangel, the first-ever Filipino who signed with a KBL team.
“I’m very happy and excited for us, Sobrang nakaka proud lang dahil more ‘kababayan’ ang makikita mo sa big stage. And at least dito magagamit na kami ni Rhenz,” quipped 22-year-old Abarrientos.
Actually, Abarrientos, Belangel, and Abando became close during the two-month ride they had with Gilas for the past two months.
During that time, they played in Gyeonggi for a couple of friendlies against South Korea, went to Auckland to face the Tall Blacks, hosted India’s Young Cagers in Pasay, before heading to Jakarta for the FIBA Asia Cup.
The bond between the trio grew and grew as they were able to have shared experiences — both the highs and the lows.
In a few months’ time, however, the trio will be donning different jerseys, representing different cities and companies. And when they face off, they plan on doing one thing — representing the country well.
“On a serious note, very happy na naka-sign si Rhenz dahil pangarap niya ito e,” said Belangel. “It also goes to show na yung young Filipino talent like us is narerecognize na internationally.”
“Mas nakikilala na tayo internationally kaya meaning niyan a lot of opportunities for more players na nagtatrabaho at nangangarap lang din katulad namin,” shared Abarrientos.