Rhenz Abando gets dream shot at playing for Gilas Pilipinas in World Cup

Rhenz Abando’s strategy for the off-season was to stay at home and rest his basketball-weary body after returning from his first professional stint in South Korea.

A Gilas Pilipinas call-up could place him on the roster of the national team that will compete against the world’s finest basketball players in the upcoming 2023 FIBA World Cup.

It is therefore quite comprehensible that he doesn’t mind it the least.

“I was surprised. I was really not expecting to be included in [the pool]. I’ve got nothing lined up—not even training—because I’m on vacation now. So I really thought that I won’t be called up,” said Abando.

“But I’m glad. This should be a great opportunity for me, a nice experience [to go through], he added.”

Abando is one of the 21, 20 after Carl Tamayo’s withdrawal due to an injury, names from which the Gilas coaching staff will select the squad that will compete in the international tournament in approximately two months.

Abando stated that he is anxious to learn from the likes of World Cup veteran Kiefer Ravena and Philippine Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson, despite playing limited minutes for Gilas in the Asia Cup and two games during the World Cup Qualifying Tournament.

Abando’s shoulder still aching from an injury he sustained during Anyang KGC’s championship run in the Korean Basketball League, the best he could do was to continue to learn.

“To be honest, I’m still out of shape. I’m still trying to catch up [with everyone]. I’ve been careless,” he said.

Abando stated that he is attempting to accelerate his rehabilitation by attending his own strength and conditioning program in addition to the one provided by Gilas.

Before Gilas embarks on a European tour that will pit them against the national teams of Estonia, Latvia, and Finland as well as professional organizations from Lithuania, he should be in peak condition.

National coach Chot Reyes stated that he has prioritized Abando and AJ Edu’s integration into Gilas during this phase of World Cup preparation.

Abando, one of the youngest athletes in the group, intends to make the most of this opportunity.

“I feel like if I’m just given enough time to get my conditioning back, I’ll be ready [for whatever],” said the 25-year-old native of Santo Tomas, La Union.

Abando and Gilas Pilipinas are presently training and bonding at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna until June 20 and will leave for Estonia on the 22nd.

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