By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Rhenz Abando’s late inclusion in Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team has finally been approved by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) for the upcoming 2022 FIBA Asia Cup to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The six-foot-four swingman was added late to Gilas Pilipinas’ pool as a replacement for injured superstar Dwight Ramos who was ruled out due to medial tibial stress syndrome or shin splints.
Abando proved his worth as a two-way swingman after showing out during the past window against New Zealand and India.
The current Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights NCAA champion showed flashes of brilliance in his Gilas debut, becoming a solid three-point shooter as well as rising as one of the national team’s reliable perimeter defenders.
Abando first shone during Gilas’ pair of international game friendlies against South Korea and immediately shrugged off his rookie jitters after averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 assist.
During the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup, Abando still produced numbers and was able to contribute 6.5 points per game for the national team.
Abando’s formal addition to Gilas will complete its 12-man rotation in Indonesia and will be a vital piece against Lebanon, India, and New Zealand.
Gilas will first face the daunting challenge of cracking the Lebanese code today at 9 PM followed by their rematch against India and New Zealand on July 15 and July 17, respectively.
Abando will be joining the same core of Kiefer Ravena, RJ Abarrientos, SJ Belangel, William Navarro, Carl Tamayo, Francis Lopez, Geo Chiu, and Kevin Quimbao.
Meanwhile, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) decided to reinforce the squad with newcomers led by Poy Erram, Thirdy Ravena, and the returning Bobby Ray Parks Jr.