UAAP: Racela urges FEU Tams to embrace opportunities after Abarrientos' departure

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2022 12:09 PM

FEU's RJ Abarrientos played just one season for the Tamaraws before turning professional. UAAP Media.
FEU's RJ Abarrientos played just one season for the Tamaraws before turning professional. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- The Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws are ready to move forward after their short-lived RJ Abarrientos era, according to head coach Olsen Racela.

Abarrientos took the UAAP by storm in what turned out to be his lone season with the Tamaraws, averaging 13.64 points per game in the Season 84 elimination round. 

FEU will have to fill Abarrientos' high-scoring ways for Season 85, as the guard decided to leave the Tamaraws after just one season. In June, he signed a contract with the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis in the Korean Basketball League (KBL).

Racela said on Wednesday that Abarrientos formally bid goodbye to his teammates and coaches earlier this week.

"Noong isang araw, nagpakain siya sa amin eh. And it was to just make it official so that the team can move forward. Ito 'yung first time niyang in-address 'yung team eh, although in-address ko na 'yung team, kinausap ko na sila na 'yun nga, wala na si RJ," Racela said after FEU's triumph against San Beda University in the FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup.

"Ito 'yung parang despedida niya sa amin. He said his goodbyes and thank yous. And 'yun nga, kinailangan namin to move forward. And of course, kay RJ din, kailangan din niya 'yun, para pumunta sa next level of his basketball career," he added.

FEU has previously expressed its full support for Abarrientos, who was the second Filipino player to sign for a KBL team after Ateneo de Manila University point guard SJ Belangel. Other players have since followed, including Colegio de San Juan de Letran's Rhenz Abando and former De La Salle-College of St. Benilde forward Justin Gutang. 

The Tamaraws, meanwhile, will continue their preparation for UAAP Season 85 with Racela encouraging his remaining players to embrace the opportunity afforded by Abarrientos' departure. 

"Life goes on for us," he said. "[This is] another opportunity doon sa mga ibang players to step up and it's their chance to shine naman."

The preseason has allowed Racela to see who is ready to step up for the Tams. Much is expected from veteran point guard LJ Gonzales, but they have also gotten promising performances from the likes of Royce Alforque, Xyrus Torres, and Patrick Sleat. 

Against San Beda University on Wednesday, it was Bryan Sajonia who led the Tams in scoring with 16 points.

"It's an opportunity for the other guys to step up," the coach stressed.

Catch replays of UAAP Season 84 games via the UAAP Varsity channel on iWantTFC, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.

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