June 2022. The Philippine men’s national basketball team visited Korea. Although the team was mainly selected by college students, it was quite strong. There were quite a few players who bullied the Korean men’s national basketball team.
One of them was Lens Abando (Anyang KGC Ginseng Corporation). Abando impressed Korean fans with his explosive 3-point shot and exceptional elasticity. He returned to Korea 3 months after the national team schedule. Now, he has a goal of becoming the first Filipino player to win the KBL championship.
Most athletes start playing sports at an early age. Without parental permission, young prospects cannot play sports. So you have to overcome your parents’ opposition.
The beginning of Abando was also like that. However, there was a difference. The point is that Abando’s parents actively supported Abando’s choice. With the support of his parents, Abando was able to focus on basketball. He also prepared conditions for growth as a promising player.
How did you start playing basketball?
Since elementary school, I have played various sports such as volleyball, 100m running, and basketball. Among them, I was most interested in basketball. Also, there are basketball hoops everywhere in the Philippines, so I was able to play basketball comfortably.
In elementary school, I did a lot of 3-on-3, and after entering middle school, I played 5-on-5 properly. Basketball was so fun and good, so I went to different areas with my teammates and played a lot of pick-up games. There are many good memories and memories. I think I was happy every time I did it.
Weren’t your parents against it?
To be honest, I didn’t pay attention at all (laughs). I was young, and I think you thought I was just doing it for fun. Then, after watching me play on TV, my parents started to support me. You were very proud of me.
Also, while I was competing for the College in Calasiao Pangasian, I happened to meet Napoleon Fontelera (Filipino politician). He is the one who runs the team and has a lot of influence, and after the game he said to me, “Univ in Manila. I want to take you to the of Santo Tomas.”
The university he was talking about is a very large school. I thought it was a great opportunity for me. I said to him, “I’ll be right there.” But I deliberately didn’t tell my family. I wanted to surprise you. It wasn’t until a month after I went to Manila that I told my family.
I didn’t believe it at first. When I said “It’s real” again, my parents loved it. After that, please support me even more. No matter what decision I make, my parents support me unconditionally. My family has always been a source of gratitude to me.
I think my thin physique was my Achilles heel. How did you try to overcome it?
I’m on the small side, but I didn’t think I was weak. I thought I had the strength needed for basketball. Even now while playing basketball, I never felt that it was difficult because of my physique.
And I don’t think basketball is just a physical sport. I think the mentality also has a big influence. As long as you have strong mental strength, I don’t think there’s any problem with playing. I think that mindset applies not only to basketball, but also to life. So no matter what happens, I try not to be shaken. I’m trying to hold on with my mental strength.
I have a really curious question. How did you develop your elasticity?
Ever since I was little, I thought ‘I can jump high’. I didn’t even do weight training to increase my elasticity. However, in order to develop the muscular strength of the whole body, I am doing weight training hard. Thankfully, elasticity seems to be innate.
Filipino basketball prospect, why did he come to Korea?
Abando visited Korea in June 2022 as a member of the Philippine men’s national basketball team. He played his first match as a national team player in Korea. His precise shooting and elasticity like a rubber band left a deep impression on Korean basketball fans.
Abando’s ability was outstanding, but Abando also felt a lot. In particular, he was deeply impressed by Heo Woong (Jeonju KCC), whom he blocked. Heo Woong’s attack was blocked, but he also gave Heo Woong a decisive run.
The first time Korean fans saw Abando was an evaluation match between the Republic of Korea men’s national basketball team and the Philippines men’s national basketball team held in June 2022.
First of all, he was selected for the Philippine national team for the first time. I was lucky. It was such an honor and an honor.
The first place I came to after being selected for the national team was Korea. When I first came, I was excited and happy. But as time went on, I think I was very nervous. Even if it’s an evaluation match, it’s because I’m playing on behalf of the Philippines.
But when the match started, I thought, ‘All the Filipinos are rooting for our teammates’. I gained a lot of strength, and I think I tried to enjoy those moments. It was a very happy moment for me, and I think it was a very good experience. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it for the rest of my life.
How did you feel about Korean basketball at that time?
I thought the defense was strong. The ball flow was also very good. Also, since the game is played at Korea’s home, I think there was a bit of an advantage for Korea. Besides, there are a lot of good shooters, so I had a hard time defending. Heo Woong was the most impressive.
What was the reason Heo Woong was so impressive?
I blocked Heo Woong once, but Heo Woong made a big shot (3 points) with me in front of me in the clutch. I just couldn’t stop it.
Most of all, I really liked playing against a good team called Korea and good players on the Korean national team. I think it’s a good experience. I also thought that if I played for KBL, I would learn a lot.
Abando’s shooting and elasticity were impressive.
It was my first match as a national team player, so I was full of motivation. Before the game, I said to myself, ‘Many Filipinos are cheering us on. I have to do my best so that they can be proud of us.”
And my team captain, keeper Ravenna, said to me, “Get to your position quickly and I’ll create a shot chance.” Because of Ravenna’s pass, I feel more at ease. And as I said before, my role was to shoot a lot. So I think I focused a lot on shooting. Above all, the coach, coaches, and teammates all gave me a lot of trust, so I think my sense of responsibility has grown.
The place where the evaluation match was held is Anyang Indoor Gymnasium. It is also the current home court.
I played basketball in front of a large crowd. The heat that day was great. A lot of Filipino fans came, so I was very grateful. But after the game started, I tried to focus only on the game. Since I came to represent the Philippines, I did my best to win the match.
The place where the national team debuted, becomes Abando’s new home court
KBL announced the expansion of the Asian Quarter System in May 2022. The Asian quota system, which was limited to Japanese players, was expanded to include Filipino players.
Several Filipino players have received interest from KBL clubs. It was the same with Abando. Abando, which received the attention of many clubs, decided to go to Anyang KGC Ginseng Corporation. Anyang Indoor Gymnasium, where he made his national team debut, became his home court.
KBL has expanded the Asian quota system to Filipino players.
I was aware of KBL’s expansion of the Asian quota system, but I never thought that I would go to KBL. However, I thought that if I went to KBL, I would be able to improve my skills even more. I thought it was a good opportunity not only for me, but also for other Filipino players.
The destination was KGC Ginseng Corporation.
Because it is a strong team, we chose KGC Ginseng Corporation. There are so many good players, so I thought there would be a lot to learn. Also, I felt that it was important to compete with good players in order to develop my skills. I had a strong desire to ‘challenge’.
At the end of September 2022, I joined KGC Ginseng Corporation. What was your first impression?
I guess I was out of my mind. Also, before coming to Korea, because of COVID-19 and injuries, I was not very well. But the players welcomed me. Thank you so much. After that, he treated me comfortably, so I was able to quickly become friends with the players. Our team members are so nice (laughs).
How was the training method of the Korean team different from that of the Philippine team?
The most impressive thing was training like a real game. I could feel that all the players were serious about their training. The energy level was also different.
But as I said before, my physical condition was not very good in the beginning. It was a bit difficult to keep up with the training (laughs). In particular, the defense training was very different from what we did in the Philippines. There were more detailed movements than I thought. So even now, I am working hard every day to adapt to the defense.
Abando suffered ups and downs at the beginning of the 2022-2023 season. However, thanks to the trust of his teammates, he fully showed his strengths, such as his 3-point shot and play using momentum. In particular, he scored an average of 15.6 points in 5 games from Wonju DB on November 18th. 온라인바카라
Abando has established itself as a member of KGC Ginseng Corporation. However, Abando did not want to end his KBL life just by ‘getting a place’. To win the KBL championship trophy for the first time as a Filipino player. That was Abando’s final goal.
In the early days of his KBL debut, he did not perform well.
Due to an injury suffered during the KBL Cup, I focused only on rehabilitation at the beginning of the season. Although he is on the court now, his body is not perfect. I need to pull him up more.
So is his prowess. We are working hard to be better than we are now. He needs to adapt more to the league as well. In particular, I think he needs to practice his defense more. He made a lot of mistakes defensively, so I feel very sorry for his teammates. So I think he has to learn more and adapt more. Still, the team members understand and care about me, so I am very grateful.
On November 18, 2022, it has been very active since Wonju DB. What is his driving force?
Coach Kim Sang-sik told me, “Play the basketball you did in the Philippines. It’s okay to make mistakes, so play your basketball.” You did not give up on me and gave me many opportunities and trust. Please instill a lot of confidence even now. I am so grateful to the director.
To repay the coach’s trust, I take more responsibility for each play. I’m trying to focus more. Also, the coaches and team members believe in me a lot. In particular, (Yang) Hee-jong, the captain, said, “You can do well. Always give me strength, saying, “I believe in you.” Everyone believes in me a lot, so I am very grateful.
What more do you need to do to continue your current performance?
Because the season is long, I think taking care of your body is the most important thing. More than anything else, I need to focus more on helping the team. And after I show a good performance, I get a strong check, so I have to play without ups and downs.
Is there anything else you want to show?
He is always doing his best on the court. I want to promise that to the fans. Also, I will work harder so that our KGC Ginseng Corporation fans can be proud of our team.
What’s your goal?
It is an unconditional win. We will focus only on the team’s combined victory. Also, among Filipino players, I want to be the first to touch the KBL championship trophy.