UAAP Basketball

UP-La Salle title showdown a UAAP first, but familiarity rules

Philip Matel

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UP-La Salle title showdown a UAAP first, but familiarity rules

EX-TEAMMATES. UP's CJ Cansino and La Salle's Mark Nonoy used to play on the same side in the UAAP.


Here’s a look at both teams’ stalwarts, whose paths crossed way before the UP Fighting Maroons and the La Salle Green Archers arranged a UAAP championship clash for the first time

MANILA, Philippines — The UP Fighting Maroons and La Salle Green Archers may be facing in the UAAP men’s basketball finals for the first time, but familiarity will reign in the matchup.

La Salle sensation Kevin Quiambao, the presumptive Most Valuable Player, was a former high school ward of UP coach Goldwin Monteverde.

Then there’s UP captain CJ Cansino and resurgent La Salle guard Mark Nonoy, who were former UST Growling Tigers teammates.  

The squads’ backcourt veterans also know each other well, with the Archers’ Evan Nelle and the Maroons’ JD Cagulangan figuring in a high school rivalry. 

“I’m just focusing on the present, knowing that coach Gold knows my game since he coached me in NU (high school),” said Quiambao.

The two universities collide in the league finals for the first time since La Salle transferred to the UAAP from the NCAA in 1986, incidentally the year when UP won its first championship.

Their best-of-three title clash this season tips off on Wednesday, November 29. (SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 86 basketball)

“I will give my best every day and prepare well for the finals… we need to be grounded after this game,” said Quiambao.  

Before calling the shots for the Maroons, Monteverde mentored Quiambao and the NU Bullpups, a powerhouse in the UAAP juniors circuit.

Quiambao manned the interior back then with former UP star Carl Tamayo, who joined Monteverde in Diliman along with former NU high school standouts Gerry Abadiano, Terrence Fortea, Harold Alarcon, Janjan Felicilda, Reyland Torres, and Cyril Gonzales.  

Monteverde steered the Maroons to their third straight championship series as UP dethroned Ateneo, 57-46, in the Final Four on Saturday, November 25. 

Nonoy and Cansino, meanwhile, teamed up in UST’s last finals appearance in 2019, where they were swept by the 16-0 Ateneo Blue Eagles team led by Thirdy Ravena and Ange Kouame.

The duo, however, went their separate ways in 2020 after the controversial UST training bubble during the height of the pandemic.

“We still talk with each other once in a while,” said Nonoy, who starred in La Salle’s 24-point beatdown of NU, 97-73, in the Final Four. 

“We may be on-court opponents, but off the court, we remain friendly as former teammates.”

Nelle and Cagulangan will also reprise a rivalry that stemmed in the NCAA juniors tournament. 

Back in 2017,  Cagulangan’s La Salle Green Hills escaped Nelle’s San Beda in triple overtime, 110-108.

Both starred in the thriller, with Cagulangan firing 29 points and Nelle collecting 26 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.

“It’s him again, no?” said Nelle in jest after delivering 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, along with 5 rebounds and 8 assists, in La Salle’s semifinal win. 

“I’ve played against him since high school, and someone asked me awhile ago whom I was excited to play against, I said JD… I haven’t played against him this whole season, so it’s going to be a tough matchup,” he continued.

“When I play him, we try to outwit each other, he’s really good, knows how to control the pace, the game, and I just got to match his effort or maybe even do more.”

La Salle and UP will start their best-of-three championship series on Wednesday, November 29, at 6 pm, at the Mall of Asia Arena. –

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