FAR Eastern University’s RJ Abarrientos will see action for the Mapua Red Robins in the coming Season 94 of the NCAA after two seasons with the Baby Tamaraws in the UAAP.
Abarrientos, 18, confirmed he has transferred to Mapua to play his final season in the juniors division with the Red Robins and has in fact attended Mapua’s practice on Wednesday.
Abarrientos, however, made it clear he will return to FEU to play college ball.
“Opo,” Abarrientos, nephew of former PBA MVP Johnny, said when asked if he will play for the Tamaraws when he moves up to the college ranks in 2019.
Abarrientos’ move is apparently an offshoot of a UAAP decision not to change the age limit in its juniors division. There were quarters within the UAAP that lobbied for the age limit to increase from 18 to 19 but it was denied recently, according to sources.
The age limit in the NCAA for juniors basketball players is 19.
The 5-foot-11 Abarrientos admitted his desire to play one more season in the juniors ranks - instead of sitting out one season - prompted his decision to move to Mapua.
Abarrientos will turn 19 in September, making him overaged when the UAAP juniors tournament begins later in the year.
“Inisip ko rin ‘yung mangyayari kapag na-tengga ako ng laro. Mahirap din po kasi ‘yung ganun,” said Abarrientos.
His entry comes as a timely boost for the Red Robins, who finished runner-up to La Salle Greenhills last season but lost season MVP Will Gozum and Warren Bonifacio.
Abarrientos, one of the top high school players in Metro Manila after playing in the NBTC All-Star Game earlier this year, is looking forward to playing for Mapua in his one-and-done season.
“Okay naman po pero siyempre hindi mawawala ‘yung pressure kasi lahat naman malalakas at lalo na galing pa sila sa finals,” said Abarrientos.
When asked what he can contribute to Mapua, Abarrientos said: “Siguro ‘yung leadership na nakuha ko sa FEU, lahat ng tinuro sa akin ng mga coaches ko.”