Cansino, youthful UST fight to avoid another meltdown



MANILA, Philippines – Over the first two weeks of UAAP Season 82, the UST Growling Tigers wowed the crowd with their sheer exciting play. 

In their first 4 games, they took down a Rey Suerte-led UE, a loaded UP team featuring Ricci Rivero and MVP Bright Akhuetie, and a dangerous NU side with a miracle overtime comeback in men’s basketball action. 

The Tigers even took two-time defending champion Ateneo to the limit and slipped ever so slightly in a 70-71 loss.

Then all of a sudden, all that momentum came crashing down as they lost 71-78 to the Adamson Soaring Falcons, who staged a stunning 16-0 finishing run.

As UST head coach Aldin Ayo refused to comment after the crushing defeat, team captain CJ Cansino took the time to remind people of his team’s identity right now. 

Doon mo makikita na young team pa kami eh,” said Cansino.  

Dahil noong last stretch, sumabay kami kahit lamang na kami. Dapat siguro yung mga rookies namin, alam kung kailan gagawa ng pace na takbuhan at kung kailan hihinto, kung kailan mag-eexecute. Masasabi ko na kulang pa talaga kami. Kailangan pa namin mag-improve.” 

(That’s how you’ll see that we’re still a young team, because in the last stretch, we ran with them even though we’re up. Maybe our rookies should know when to run the floor and when to stop and execute plays. I just have to say we’re still lacking. We still need to improve.) 

Indeed, amid all the highlights and statement wins, the 3-2 Tigers are still running, quite literally, on youth. 

Rhenz Abando, Mark Nonoy and Soulemane Chabi Yo, despite being mainstays on the highlight reels, are all just playing their rookie seasons with UST. 

Cansino himself, although already the team captain, is just a sophomore and will only turn 20 in October. 

Obviously, Ayo knows this and just reminded his wards what they should do instead of going off on them.

Sinabi niya lang na yun nga, yung decision-making namin,” Cansino said. “Yung mga pasa. Kung kailan kami titira.” 

(He just reminded us about our decision-making: our passes and when we need to shoot.) 

Although Cansino added that bouncing back could be difficult for such a young team, he also noted that their attitude is at least on the right track. 

‘Di natin alam kung aabot ba kami ng Final Four pero yung team naman namin, nag-iimprove,” he said. “Yung mga mali namin, [naaayos] namin sa practice para next game, di na namin magawa.” 

(We don’t know if we’ll reach the Final Four but our team is improving. We learn from our mistakes so we don’t repeat them in the next game.)

If the highlight reels are any indication of this team’s heart, then it’s only a matter of time before these young Tigers strike fear into the opposition once again. –