FROM the current players of the Far Eastern University Baby Tamaraws, no one among the players has a surname which, at first glance, stands out among the rest.
But RJ Abarrientos is under no illusion that his play now is even remotely close to that of his celebrated uncle Johnny, who also played high school and college ball for FEU before moving on to a legendary career in the PBA.
Instead, the 17-year-old is staying patient, driven to carve his own niche away from his uncle who, by the way, is one of only a handful of players whose jersey number was retired by the Morayta-based school.
“May pressure kasi dinadala ko ‘yung apelyido niya,” Abarrientos, who is a son of Johnny A's sister, admitted to SPIN.ph. “Pero hindi ko na iniisip ‘yun. Ang iniisip ko, mag-basketball lang at unahin ang pag-aaral.”
In his first year with the Baby Tamaraws, Abarrientos has yet to put up the numbers similar to his uncle, averaging 4.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in only 11.7 minutes of action.
But on Thursday, the 5-foot-10 guard showed glimpses of the skills his famous uncle became known for, particularly his dribbling.
He went on to finish with 10 points - capping his big game with the dagger three-pointer that lifted FEU to a 64-62 win over Ateneo in a playoff to determine the second seed in the Final Four.
Abarrientos said he's happy to contribute, and happier to see his team avenge a loss to Ateneo in the final game of the eliminations- courtesy of a dagger triple by Joaquin Manuel.
“’Yung last game po talaga, struggling kami nung first half. ‘Yung tira ni Manuel, clutch ‘yun. Kaya nung pagkuha ko ng bola, motivated po ako na makabawi,” said Abarrientos.
Even with his impressive play last Thursday, Abarrientos is staying grounded, guided by the words of his uncle who also happens to be one of the assistant coaches of the FEU seniors team.
“Ang advice lang niya sa akin, huwag ma-pressure kasi dinadala ko ‘yung apelyido niya," Abarrientos said. "Gumawa daw ako ng sariling pangalan.”