RJ Abarrientos set to debut in Korean Basketball League

RJ Abarrientos will become the second Filipino to play in the KBL (tiebreakertimes.com)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Far Eastern University (FEU) point guard and young Gilas Pilipinas cadet RJ Abarrientos will be following the footsteps of his national teammate SJ Belangel after inking a deal with the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus basketball club in the Korean Basketball League (KBL).

After a stellar rookie season in the UAAP, the crafty scoring guard will be heading overseas and will play in Phoebus under the Asian Players Quota rule.

Several international scouts were vying for Abarrientos’ services after turning heads during the FIBA Asia Qualifying windows and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament where he dazzled and put on a show against their close game against Serbia.

Aside from his past international stints with Gilas, Abarrientos also had a solid game during their two friendly games against Korea and exploded for 17 points during their second encounter.

Abarrientos shot an impressive 5/10 shooting from the field despite the 106-102 loss but improved his case as a solid Asian import.

It was also a tough decision to make for Abarrientos since committing to the Korean basketball club will forego his remaining playing years in the UAAP and will not suit up in the next season with the Tamaraws.

The savvy guard averaged 13.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in his first year with the Tamaraws and was also a part of the UAAP Most Valuable Player (MVP) conversation along with Justine Baltazar of DLSU and Ange Kouame of Ateneo.

Before flying to Korea, Abarrientos will still play for the national team in the upcoming third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on June 30 and July 3.

Gilas will take on the daunting task of stopping the New Zealand national team in their first game and will face India on the very next playing schedule.