BY REYNALD MAGALLON
Letran top gunner Rhenz Abando felt there are players more deserving for the Rookie of the Year award other than himself.
On Sunday, Abando joined a short list of MVP and Rookie of the Year winners when he won both awards prior to helping lead the Knights to back-to-back NCAA championships.
Having played in the other league – he suited up for University of Santo Tomas for a year –Abando believes he should not be considered as rookie anymore.
“Actually yung rookie (award) parang di ko naman deserve yon kasi mas deserve ng fresh grads yon,” said Abando.
But under NCAA rules, all first year players whether they’re transferees or fresh from high school are still treated as rookies.
If there’s some discomfort for Abando in taking the top rookie award, the MVP plum was an entirely different story.
For Abando, the award was a fruit of his labor and sacrifices especially after the two-year lull due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Yung MVP, siguro wala namang rason don kasi lahat naman kami galing sa scratch. Pare-parehas kaming ilang months lang yung preparation. Lahat naman na-pandemic at wala kaming experience lahat for two years. Pantay-pantay kami sa MVP,” he added.
Abando also proved why he’s the best player in the league as he took over in the crucial stretch of their title-clinching 75-65 win against Mapua in Game 2 last Sunday.
With the Cardinals threatening to come back after cutting the lead, which once was as high as 21 points, to single digits, the 6-foot-3 high flyer took matters in his own hands and scored the Knights’ last six points to ensure his team that they will be the one lifting the trophy at the end of the final buzzer.
“Actually Sobrang sarap. Yun lang masasabi ko,” said Abando who was obviously on cloud nine after capturing his first collegiate title.
It was also extra sweeter as he celebrated the glory with his close pal and fellow transferee Brent Paraiso.
“Sobrang saya kasi di naman yun nagawa sa previous school namin. Syempre sa sarili ko, sobrang saya kasi first championship ko to sa college kasi si Brent nagchampion naman na sa La Salle,” shared Abando.
“Sobrang saya ko kasi binigay din sakin ‘to ng teammates ko, alam nilang gusto ko mag-champion talaga kasi di pa ako nagcha-champion.”