RHENZ Abando may no longer be a part of University of Santo Tomas, but he'd rather not face the school which gave him his biggest career break in Manila.
"Ayoko rin mag-UAAP kasi pag-UAAP, makakalaban ko ang UST. Baka pag nag-chant ng 'Go USTe!,' baka bigla ko depensahan yung mga kakampi ko na kalaban ng UST. Ayoko talaga makalaban ang UST," said the 6-foot-2 forward with a chuckle.
That's the main motivation for the Sto. Tomas, La Union native as he chose to head to Letran and play in the NCAA, where he can still suit up for three seasons.
Abando feels that this early, he made the right decision as he sees himself reaching his full potential with the Knights.
"Mas okay ako sa Letran kasi all-Filipino. Nakikita ko kasi sa NCAA, talagang balyahan. Pure talent talaga doon kaya laban lang," he said, joining a Letran side which is coming off a championship in NCAA Season 95.
It also helps that he'll still be side-by-side with fellow ex-Growling Tigers Brent Paraiso and Ira Bataller as they all get a fresh start in Muralla.
"Sobrang laking bagay ni Brent at Ira kasi sila rin naman yung may alam ng laro ko at alam ko rin ang laro nila. Makikihalubilo na lang kami sa players ng Letran at mas napadali yung transition namin kasi kasama ko na yung mga kasangga ko kahit dati pa," he said.
Abando noted that no less than coach Bonnie Tan promised him that he won't regret choosing Letran, and that he needs not worry about a thing.
"Sa akin, gagawin ko lang ang lahat tulad ng ginawa ko sa UST. Kung kaya ko higitan, gagawin ko lahat ng makakaya ko hanggang dulo," he said.
Still, there's still a part of Abando that will miss the UAAP, especially UST.
"Mamimiss ko yung crowd mismo, as in yung crowd ng UST na kapag nag-chant na ng, 'Go USTe!,' wala nang imposible sa yo eh. Lahat nagiging posible na at tatayo talaga ang balahibo mo," he said.