MAGNOLIA deputy Johnny Abarrientos found himself back in his 'second home’ on Thursday.
“Dito ako madalas maglaro nun. Hugot-hugot sa mga liga,” recalled the cage great as he set foot in Barangay Bagbaguin, Valenzuela for the latest edition of the PBA Homecourt.
“Ganitong-ganito 'yung court na pinaglalaruan namin,” he said, pointing to a wooden half court that sits at the center of the street surrounded by row of houses.
Abarrientos, 47, grew up in the Del Monte area in Quezon City, but it was in barangay tournaments, specifically in Valenzuela, where he really honed his skills to become one of the best guards in PBA history.
“May mga kaibigan kasi ako (sa Valenzuela), pero madalas sa Dona Atang tsaka sa Tanada ako tambay. Doon laging may mga liga,” said the 1996 league MVP.
And it’s the reason it warmed his heart when fans, young and old alike, gave him, along with Blackwater big man JP Erram, fellow MVP Arwind Santos, and Commissioner Willie Marcial, a warm welcome when they dropped by for a visit that coincided with the barangay fiesta.
Present to welcome the PBA visitors were Barangay captain and SK chairman candidates Michelle Gregorio and Riza 'Not' Beltran, respectively.
“Kung anong init ng panahon, yun din naman ang init ng pagtanggap nila sa amin,” said Abarrientos, a product of Far Eastern University and one of the country’s best point guards ever.
Erram was also overwhelmed by the reception.
“Masaya at nakakataba ng puso yung pagtanggap nila sa amin,” said the Blackwater stalwart, who joined the league’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project for the first time along with Abarrientos.
Santos had previously joined ‘Homecourt,’ but remained a big hit among fans seeking autographs and selfies.