JOEM Sabandal has no regrets staying put at Adamson when a number of his contemporaries took their acts elsewhere.
"No regrets talaga," he said after ending his high school career with the Baby Falcons.
Left to hold the fort after the departure of former teammates Gerry Abadiano, Forthsky Padrigao, and Jason Celis, Sabandal made the most of the opportunity given him at San Marcelino.
The six-foot guard blossomed under coach Mike Fermin and steered the Baby Falcons to the Final Four of UAAP Season 81 as their leader and main man.
"Si coach Mike, napakalaki ng tiwala niya sa akin at di ko naman sinayang," Sabandal said, adding he relished his season-long battles against his teammates-turned foes Padrigao and Abadiano.
"To be honest, masaya ako kasi nakakalaban ko sila at nakaka-compete ako sa kanila ng maayos, unlike noong magkasama kami na hindi ganoon kalaki yung chance na binigay sa akin."
It might not be the ending Sabandal was hoping for to his juniors' career after Adamson suffered a 94-72 defeat to NU in the semifinals, but he's happy to see the foundation already laid for the program under Fermin's guidance.
"Nag-iyakan nga kami sa loob eh, pero heads up lang kasi nakita naman natin na yung programa nila coach, ang ganda talaga. Two years pa lang sila dito pero last year muntik na, tapos ngayon Final Four naman," he said after finishing with seven points, five rebounds, and five assists in his last game for the Baby Falcons.
Sad as this ending may be, Sabandal said that his journey with Adamson isn't over yet as he has committed to play for the Soaring Falcons at the seniors' level.
"I'll stay for five years pa," said the 18-year-old, joining Arellano's Aaron Fermin as the Soaring Falcons' offseason haul in the lead-up to UAAP Season 82.
And Sabandal is wasting no time becoming familiar with the system of the Adamson senior team under coach Franz Pumaren.
"Gusto ako ni coach Franz at nag-ensayo na ako sa kanila. Trabaho na agad para sa seniors. Magpa-practice na ako sa Monday."