Abando, 2 other UST mainstays join Letran

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    RHENZ Abando’s next stop: Letran.

    The high-flying forward, together with guard Brent Paraiso and big man Ira Bataller, have reportedly joined the defending NCAA champion Knights after leaving University of Santo Tomas recently.

    Letran coach Bonnie Tan and athletic director Fr. Vic Calvo, OP, cannot be reached for comment yesterday.

    The 6-foot-2 Abando was the Growling Tigers’ second-leading scorer behind reigning MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo in the last UAAP cage wars, averaging 11.7 points on 29-percent shooting from deep, along with 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

    Paraiso, who played two years for Aldin Ayo at La Salle where they won a title in 2016, was good for 7.2 points, to go with 4.0 boards and 1.4 assists last season.

    Abando and Bataller can still suit up for three seasons for Letran, while Paraiso is still eligible to play for two more years.

    The fate of UST is hanging in the air due to allegations of violating the government’s stringent COVID-19 health protocols when the Tigers held a bubble training at the hometown of former coach Ayo in Capuy, Sorsogon City that began in mid-June.

    Ayo, together with assistant coaches McJour Luib and Jiniño Manansala, resigned last Friday. UST accepted their resignations last Saturday.

    UST Institute of Physical Education and Athletics (IPEA) director Fr. Jannel Abogado, OP, resigned last Aug. 25 and was replaced by Fr. Ermito de Sagon.

    Ayo reportedly was eyeing to go back to the Knights but was promptly rejected by Calvo and Letran special assistant to the rector for sports development Alfrancis Chua.

    Despite playing all-Filipino all throughout last year, Letran wound up with a 12-6 card for third after the elimination round and hurdled No. 4 San Sebastian College and second-ranked Lyceum in the stepladder semifinals.

    Then the Knights did what seemed like the improbable.

    Letran dethroned heavily-favored San Beda University, which was gunning for a four-peat, in the Big Dance in three grueling games.