MANILA, Philippines -- A sore right leg prevented University of Santo Tomas (UST) rising star Rhenz Abando from playing during the closing stretch of their game against Adamson University on Wednesday.
Abando, who has already established himself as one of the most exciting players in Season 82 after just five games, asked to be subbed out with under five minutes left to play after getting hit in the leg.
"Natamaan ako ng import nila," said Abando, referring to Adamson's Lenda Douanga. "Natuhod 'yung legs ko, tumigas, sumakit."
Abando still found time for one more highlight -- a massive rejection of Adamson's Egie Mojica -- before being taken out of the game with 3:24 left. The Growling Tigers were ahead, 69-61, at the time; they would pull ahead 71-62 with 3:07 left.
UST would dearly miss Abando in crunch time as they gave up 16 unanswered points to the Soaring Falcons in the final 2:09 of the game. They could not contain Val Chauca, who had 7 points in the run including a three-pointer that made it a one-point game with 60 seconds left.
According to Abando, he had been dealing with pain in his leg since he attempted to block Adamson's Ap Manlapaz in the third quarter.
"Masakit 'yung paa ko. Bad landing ako nung hinabol ko 'yung lay-up," said Abando.
Having to sit out in crunch time was painful for Abando, who finished with just 9 points on 3-of-9 shooting for the game -- his lowest output so far this season. The La Union native had been averaging 16 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Growling Tigers entering the game.
"Mahirap, mahirap," he said of the situation. "Mali ko rin, dapat tiniis ko na lang 'yung sakit para andoon pa rin sana ako."
The good news for Abando and UST is that the athletic swingman is okay and does not expect to miss any time.
"Kaya naman," he said, though he did lament the opportunity that they wasted against the Soaring Falcons. A win would have put UST at solo second; instead, they are at joint third with Adamson with identical 3-2 slates.
"Siyempre malungkot [kami]," he said. "Sayang, sayang na naman."
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