As MVP, Rhenz Abando more focused on winning title
Rhenz Abando has been so engrossed in capturing the NCAA Season 97 men’s basketball title for Letran that he sees winning Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the same time as a bonus.
The 6-foot-2, spring-loaded forward has finally gotten that out of the way after being the hands-down pick for both awards, and Abando will definitely be more motivated to help seal what he set out to do at the start of the season when the Knights battle the Mapua Cardinals on in Game 2 of their title showdown on Sunday.
“My priority is to win the championship, because I don’t want to be a bridesmaid anymore,’’ said Abando, who transferred to Letran a year after the playing for a University of Santo Tomas side that lost in the UAAP Finals to Ateneo in 2019.
“Winning the MVP is just a bonus, but I’m still thankful for the blessing,’’ added Abando after averaging 15.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 blocks despite coming off the bench most of the time.
Aside from the MVP trophy, Abando will also be named Rookie of the Year during the awarding ceremony prior to the Knights-Cardinals championship clash at Filoil Flying V Centre.
Abando, who hails from Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan, pulled off the Rookie-MVP accomplishment after Mapua’s Allwell Oraeme did the trick in 2015. San Beda’s Sam Ekwe achieved the feat in 2006 and Gabby Espinas of Philippine Christian University won the same in 2004.
The 24-year-old Abando will lead the Mythical Five that includes teammate Jeo Ambohot, Arellano big man Justin Arana, power forward JM Calma of San Sebastian and St. Benilde’s Will Gozum.
Ambohot, the third overall pick in the Draft, averaged 10.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while Arana, the fourth overall pick, tallied 17.1 rebounds, 14.7 points, 2.7 blocks and 1.4 assists.
Calma, the season’s top scorer, compiled averages of 16.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in 11 games overall.
Unbeaten in 11 games, the Knights are looking to sweep their best-of-three series with the Cardinals following a narrow 68-63 in the Finals opener last Sunday. INQ
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