MANILA, Philippines -- Even his own opponents have nothing but praise for University of Santo Tomas (UST) rookie Rhenz Abando, who continues to put up the highlights in his young UAAP career.
The La Union native only had nine points in the Growling Tigers' 71-70 loss to the Ateneo de Manila University on Wednesday, but he had the most spectacular field goal of the game -- an alley-oop dunk to open the fourth quarter.
"Designed play po talaga," Abando said of the dunk, which gave the Tigers a 58-53 lead over the Blue Eagles.
"Sobrang ginanahan ako kasi wala akong ginawa kanina sa game tapos ayun nga, naka-dunk ako. Parang nagising 'yung crowd," he added. "Gusto ko sumigaw pero naririnig ko 'yung buong UST community na sumisigaw, parang hinayaan ko na lang sila."
Veteran Ateneo forward Thirdy Ravena, who has been singing praises of Abando ever since the preseason, was unsurprised to see the rookie shine for the Growling Tigers.
"Alam ko na parating na 'yun," he said. "It's just a matter of everyone seeing it."
"I already knew he had something different in him eh. He had the determination, and 'yung willingness niya to play and to perform is just on a different level," Ravena said of Abando.
"So 'yung mga ganoon klaseng players, mga special players na makikita mo kaagad eh, so honestly I'm not that surprised."
Abando had immediately made a name for himself in their first game, scoring 22 points in a 95-82 win over University of the East. He then had 12 points and 7 rebounds as the Tigers stunned University of the Philippines, 85-69.
Ravena actually offered more than just praise for Abando after Wednesday's game -- he also gave the rookie a pair of shoes after their match-up.
"Sobrang saya," said Abando, who was clearly touched by Ravena's gesture. "'Di ko pa naman ine-expect na bibigyan ako. Nagkusa pa po, ang bait pala ni Thirdy."
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