Two of the UST Growling Tigers’ last pieces for the future are now likely gone.
Mark Nonoy, the UAAP Season 82 Rookie of the Year, is now finalizing his transfer to the La Salle Green Archers along with teammate Deo Cuajao, as confirmed to Rappler Sports by Raffy Villavicencio, one of the school’s chief backers.
Although another source within the UST camp also confirmed the transfer, Villavicencio noted it is not yet final, which corroborates the statements of player agent Jackson Chua.
"Mark and Deo are loyal to coach Aldin. Si Mark, high school pa lang, si coach Aldin na kumuha para sa UST High School tapos si Deo naman two weeks before the season last year kinuha ni coach pero ni-line up pa rin," Chua said.
(Mark and Deo are loyal to coach Aldin. Mark was recruited by coach Aldin for UST High School while Deo was inserted into the lineup last year, just two weeks before the season.)
"Kaya we are still waiting kung e-endorse nga ng school yung appeal ni coach. Nagme-meeting daw po sila as of the moment tungkol dito sa UST," he continued.
(That’s why we are still waiting if the school will endorse coach’s appeal. They are meeting about this right now in UST.)
Chua added there were exploratory talks for the two with other teams and are expected to make their final decision soon.
"They are stressed because of their loyalty to coach Aldin. But at the same time, time is running out since enrollment for the first semester in all schools is coming to a close,” Chua said, adding that the two would rather stay in UST or be under Ayo.
Nonoy quickly got his name out last year as UST made its Cinderella run to the Season 82 finals.
The 5-foot-8 speedster from La Carlota, Negros Occidental, finished his rookie year as the Tigers’ third-leading scorer, with averages of 11.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.9 assists.
Cuajao also showed promise in his first year in the UAAP, despite being limited to norms of 1.1 points and 1 rebound in less than 6 minutes a night across 12 appearances.
The exodus of players started when team captain Cansino surpsingly left the team, saying he got “kicked out.” (READ: TIMELINE: Chaos follows as UST bubble bursts)
As the drama unfolded, it turned out Ayo brought the team to Sorsogon for a training camp, which is a violation of the government’s health protocols amid the pandemic. (READ: Master of Mayhem: How Aldin Ayo's coaching career unraveled)
Ayo eventually resigned before the UAAP banned the multi-titled coach indefinitely for “endangering the health and well-being of the student athletes."