MANILA, Philippines – For UST Growling Tigers head coach Aldin Ayo, CJ Cansino is more than just a tantalizing prospect.
Playing just his second year, the scrappy swingman who came off a nasty ACL injury got promoted as team captain for UST’s UAAP Season 82 campaign.
And for Ayo, the decision was practically a no-brainer.
“He has the respect of all the players and he [is] a true blooded Thomasian,” he said after UST’s 95-82 win against the UE Red Warriors. “Si CJ kumpleto. Magaling makisama, straight, walang kalokohan ang kung ano-ano. Student-athlete. So what else can you ask?”
“Kung may dapat gayahin ng players sa amin, si CJ [yun,]" he added. "'Yung humility eh, talagang grounded. Nagbago na siya eh. Ngayon, I don't think he’s aware, pero down to earth na yung bata.”
(CJ is complete. He gets along well, he doesn’t fool around and he’s a student-athlete. So what else can you ask? If there’s someone our players need to emulate, that’s CJ. It’s the humility. He’s really grounded. He’s changed. Now, I don’t think he’s aware, but the kid is already down-to-earth.)
If the 19-year-old indeed showed a bit of pride in his rookie season, he actually had every reason to. Prior to going down with an ACL tear, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged a double-double with 12.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
Cansino even clinched the first triple-double ever recorded by a rookie since official stats were kept in 2003: a 20-point, 14-rebound, 10-assist gem in a 79-68 win against UE last year.
This year, however, a more mature Cansino is just hell-bent on doing what’s best for his team instead of himself.
“Lagi ko naman sinasabi sa sarili ko na every game ibibigay ko lahat ng matutulong ko para mapanalo UST,” he said. “Masaya ako na may naitulong ako para mapanalo yung team.”
(I’m always telling myself that I’ll give everything I can to help UST win. I’m happy that I was able to bring something to help out the team.)
Amid all his intangibles that got him his captainship, however, Cansino has a very concrete way to determine if his leadership actually works: getting wins.
“Para kasi sa akin malalaman mo lang na na-lead mo ng maayos yung team kapag nanalo,” he said. “So sa tingin ko nagawa namin lahat yung role namin sa team para maipanalo yung game.”
(For me, you know you led the team well if you won. So I think we did all our roles well to win the game.)
As Cansino is proving night in and night out – cliched as it may be – age is really just a number. – Rappler.com