Abando returns as UST tackles NU in vital duel

John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — All eyes will be on returning Rhenz Abando as Santo Tomas battles National U, looking to boost its Final Four and twice-to-beat hopes in the 82nd UAAP men’s basketball tournament today at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City. 

Moving on from the issue that surrounded him in the past few days, Abando is expected to be on laser-like focus at 2 p.m. when the third-running Tigers aim for a repeat win against the cellar-dwelling Bulldogs in a bid to catch UP at No. 2 spot that comes with a win-once bonus in the playoffs. 

Clinging at fourth and fifth spot, La Salle and FEU also meet in a vital tiff at 4 p.m.

The 22-year-old Abando has been the center of talks after his curious benching in the Tigers’ Wednesday match against UP. 

It rooted from an alleged attempt or attempts of other schools to lure him, leading to Santo Tomas’ quick action to iron things out with its prized cager. 

After a heartfelt meeting with school officials and coach Aldin Ayo hours after the news broke out, Abando vowed that he’s not going anywhere.

“I’m staying. I don’t even had a plan to leave and transfer in the first place,” Abando said, admitting that he indeed received feelers during the PBA D-League campaign of UST and before the start of the 82nd season, saying he did not even entertain such talks. 

The La Union native said he bleeds “gold and white,” and he’s a bonafide Tiger for life, explaining his decision to snub the offers.

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