MANILA, Philippines — Rhenz Abando bore mixed emotions Saturday night.
He was happy that Gilas Pilipinas finally won a game in the Fiba World Cup 2023—that he had a great outing was a welcome bonus. But he also felt a tinge of regret that the team did not play as well in its first four games.
“I’m very happy but I wish we had played this way in the previous games. We had faith in our teammates and coach always tells us to lean on each other,” Abando told reporters.
Abando emerged as the top local performer with 14 points, five rebounds, one block, and a steal in 24 minutes of action in the Philippines’ rousing 96-75 victory over China in their final game of the tournament before an ecstatic 11,000 fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
But the 25-year-old guard stressed the improvements he needs amid his stellar showing.
“I had too many lapses and you saw it in my decision-making, my turnovers. I’m just glad I made up for those turnovers with baskets. But if you looked at my game, if the coaches and fans look, I was playing really bad,” Abando said.
Despite ending up with only one win in five games, missing the second round and failing to tab an outright berth to the Olympics, the Korean Basketball League import still urged the fans to be happy and proud of their fight all throughout the tournament.
“They should be happy and proud. I hope that, in a way, we managed to lessen their anger by getting this one win,”he said.
The former NCAA rookie-MVP out of Letran emerged as a crowd favorite throughout Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign, from the record-breaking opening night at Philippine Arena up to the team’s final match at the Big Dome.
Abando was grateful for all the cheers and chants of his surname during the games.
“I’m happy being the crowd favorite. I can’t find the words to say how flattered I was that there are those who continue to support me regardless of whether I play well or not.”
Abando, who averaged 5.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in five matches in 13.5 minutes of playing time, said in a previous interview that he will continue serving the country if he gets another call-up.
Rhenz Abando after being the top local scorer with 14 points and five rebounds in their 96-75 win over China. #FIBAWC
Posted by Inquirer Sports on Saturday, September 2, 2023
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