#SLAMRisingStars 2018: RJ Abarrientos of Team Punks

High School: FEU-FERN Baby Tamaraws

Height: 5’11”

Position: Combo Guard/Small Forward

Player Comparison: Abarrientos likes to model his game after his tito, Johnny Abarrientos, and it’s easy to see the similarities between the two. Both are stocky guards who are crafty, although the Flying A has the edge in terms of playmaking and passing right now. Abarrientos also compares himself with Kyrie, not necessarily in terms of how he handles the ball, but in terms of toughness and heart. At this point, the Johnny A model seems apt, although he still has ways to go before he reaches the greatness of his tito.

School committed to: FEU Tamaraws. A slot in Team A isn’t a lock (as the case is with many recruits), but there’s plenty of reason to be excited for both sides given FEU’s knack for developing talent from the ground up.

Position in College: Point Guard, but given his size and skill, seeing Abarrientos play minutes as a small-ball two guard is definitely a possibility.

RJ Abarrientos

No, he’s not Johnny Abarrientos’ son. He’s the nephew, but RJ Abarrientos himself knows the comparisons to his uncle will probably never end.

“Pinaghandaan ko na yan eh,” mentioned Abarrientos. “Alam ko na lagi ako macoconnect sa tito ko. Siyempre yung apleyido ko pa lang, Abarrientos, nakatatak na yan sa mga tao eh.” He acknowledges his tito is a legend in this country, but he isn’t allowing that to stop him from creating his own legacy.

There are shades to his tito every time RJ plays. When he brings the ball down off a rebound, there’s that unmistakable confidence and control that his tito had with him during his heyday. Abarrientos may not be as good a playmaker yet compared to his tito, but that’s fine. He’s still young, with plenty of time to develop his skills as he enters college.

Abarrientos himself is used to having his skills developed, as well as adjusting to different roles. During Season 79, he was used more as a wing deployed beside the likes of LJay Gonzales and Jun Gabane. But during Season 80, Abarrientos was developed into a combo guard backing up Gonzales. His passing developed nicely, while his rebounding and occasional shooting remained great weapons for the Baby Tamaraws. He was the Pippen to Gonzales’ Jordan, and he did an admirable job at embracing such a role.

He isn’t the Flying A’s son, and that should be the least of his concerns. The same can be said regarding RJ, as he’s already accepted being associated to his uncle will something that he will hold with him forever. But he’s ready to go out of that shadow, by building his name with his own unique, all-around style.

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