FAST FACTS: A rundown on the CJ Cansino-UST-UP saga

Seemingly out of nowhere, the dormant UAAP world was rocked over the weekend after UST Growling Tigers basketball team captain CJ Cansino left the team for “personal reasons.”

As more details came out almost by the hour, the situation became more apparent that Cansino, at least according to him, was kicked off the team coached by Aldin Ayo.

Almost immediately after the alleged reason of his ouster was brought to light, the 6-foot-1 guard quickly found himself a new home with the UP Fighting Maroons, where he will be eligible to play in 2022 after a required one-year sit-out.

Soon after, Cansino’s old team was rocked again with another new issue as allegations of the team holding illegal “bubble” practices in Sorsogon swirled around social media and news outlets. 

Currently, the team is now under investigation through a concerted effort by the UAAP, UST, the Department of Health (DOH), the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and the Games and Amusements Board (GAB.) 

For those who need a catch-up on the personalities, entities, and lightning-quick developments on the issue, here is what you need to know:

CJ Cansino is a young basketball sensation

From a young age, Cansino was already touted as a special basketball talent, as evidenced by his UAAP Season 80 juniors Most Valuable Player award win as a UST Tiger Cub back in 2018.

During that season, his final year in high school, he averaged 24.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals to lead all candidates in statistical points, the sole basis for MVP voting in the UAAP.

Cansino bested other young standout like Dave Ildefonso, SJ Belangel, L-Jay Gonzales, and most notably, current NBA prospect Kai Sotto.

His stellar run continued into the UAAP seniors division under UST coach Aldin Ayo as he was in the running for Season 81 Rookie of the Year honors with elite averages of 12.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists. However, he was sidelined with an untimely ACL injury at the very last game of that season. 

While he braved through his rehab as the team's new captain, he saw his numbers dip to just 5.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists in what is now his final year as a Tiger in Season 82.

UST coach Aldin Ayo is a two-time collegiate champion across two leagues

Aldin Ayo, who is currently serving his third straight term as councilor of Sorsogon City’s west district, rose to fame in basketball circles after leading the Letran Knights to a stunning NCAA Season 91 finals win over the dynastic San Beda Red Lions.

Shortly after crushing San Beda’s four-peat hopes back in 2015, he stunned fans after leaving the Knights’ lair to coach the La Salle Green Archers.

Battling controversies throughout his first foray in the UAAP, Ayo worked his magic for the second straight year as he coached the Ben Mbala-led Archers to their second championship in 4 seasons.

After falling short in his second year in La Salle at the hands of Tab Baldwin and rival team Ateneo Blue Eagles, Ayo again changed his scenery and landed in España with UST.

Once again, Ayo fast-tracked his players’ development and reached the Season 82 finals before losing anew against Baldwin and an in-sync Eagles lineup, which went undefeated for the entire season.

But he’s now embroiled in controversy after a falling out with his UST team captain Cansino and allegedly holding a “bubble” training camp in Sorsogon. (READ: Ayo breaks silence on Cansino, ‘bubble’ practice controversies)

No amateur sports teams are allowed to train due to COVID-19 community quarantine rules

Per sporting guidelines released by the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), no amateur team is allowed to play nor practice under any form of community quarantine, whether it be enhanced (ECQ), general (GCQ) or modified general (MGCQ).

Being a collegiate team, the UST Tigers fall under that same ban, which is why they are now being investigated for possible violations. 

Following Cansino’s ouster from the team and subsequent signing with the UP Fighting Maroons, reports and social media posts surfaced that UST has been conducting practices in Sorsogon, Ayo’s home province, for the past months. (READ: UAAP awaits UST internal probe on alleged ‘bubble’ practices)

UST said it already “created a committee to investigate and to inquire into the matter.” (READ: Cansino opens up, implores people to take mental health seriously)

Currently, only professional leagues – the PBA, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3, and the Philippines Football League – are allowed to conduct practices under a GCQ classification or lower.

UP is now a top destination for college basketball prospects

As teams like Ateneo, La Salle, UST and FEU ruled the UAAP roost in the late 2000s, the Fighting Maroons were nothing more than an afterthought squad collecting winless seasons one after the other.

From 2005 to 2015, UP amassed a paltry 17-121 win-loss record with 3 winless seasons in that span.

However, things turned for the better following a concerted call for more support and the team combined for 28 wins in the last 4 seasons, already 9 wins more than their last decade of futility.

Within that span of success, top basketball prospects flocked to Diliman, including former NCAA MVP Bright Akhuetie, former UAAP champion Ricci Rivero, and former NCAA Division I recruit Kobe Paras.

Now, UP has its latest talented yet controversial recruit in Cansino. (READ: How UP recruited CJ Cansino to become a Fighting Maroon)

But even before Cansino, UP’s recruitment already switched into overdrive at the end of Season 82 and secured the commitment of numerous blue-chip high school stars like Carl Tamayo, Gerry Abadiano, Joel Cagulangan, RC Calimag.

UAAP activities will tentatively resume during the first quarter of 2021

As made clear by UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag, the UAAP will only resume activities once the new school year starts.

However, the league must still gain IATF clearance to start sporting events if ever schools do reopen on October 5.

This is why the league has maintained a purposely vague kickoff window for Season 83, which will tentatively start during the first quarter of 2021.

The league has also entertained ideas that would tweak their usual flow of operations, including a compressed SEA Games-style schedule. However, nothing is set in stone due to the uncertainties surrounding the ongoing pandemic. –