UAAP Basketball

‘Part of something big’: Zain Mahmood sees bright future with UST Tigers

Rob Andrew Dongiapon

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‘Part of something big’: Zain Mahmood sees bright future with UST Tigers

PROMISING. Zain Mahmood in action for Gilas Pilipinas Youth in the FIBA U18 Asia Championship in 2022.


‘I think that culture shift over there is coming,’ says Filipino-Canadian teen recruit Zain Mahmood as UST tries to restore its lost UAAP men’s basketball glory

MANILA, Philippines – Zain Mahmood was a highly touted big coming off Maranatha High School in California. With his combination of size, heft, and scoring prowess, the Filipino-Canadian teen caught the attention of some of the Philippines’ top basketball programs, attracting feelers and offers to play in the country’s collegiate ranks.

Eventually, he committed to the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in February. 

What awaits him is a program raring to restore its lost UAAP men’s basketball glory.

“I feel like being a part of the dynamic of what’s going on is just as good as, and probably even better, because then it feels like you were there to help build it, brick by brick, stone by stone,” said Mahmood on why he joined the Growling Tigers in the Navs Effect podcast. 

Mahmood is projected to beef up UST’s frontcourt, an apparent Achilles’ heel of the team last season as the Tigers gave up the most points per game while being the second-worst team in rebounds. 

Standing at about 6-foot-7, Mahmood posted 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds with the Gilas Pilipinas Youth team in the FIBA U18 Asia Championship in 2022, bringing optimism that he can solve the team’s most glaring issues. 

“I think I bring a strong inside presence but I also believe I’m able to stretch the floor really well and dominate inside out,” Mahmood said. “I think I have a complete game and I want to be able to demonstrate that.”

The 18-year-old will join a UST squad hoping to end years of agony. 

Just last season, the Tigers finished with just two wins in 14 games. A year before that, they only notched one victory. 

Missing the Final Four in the past three seasons, UST has been hell-bent on reviving its basketball program, acquiring former champion coach Pido Jarencio as head tactician, former UAAP champion mentor Juno Sauler as an assistant coach, and even appointing alumnus and San Miguel sports director Alfrancis Chua as special assistant to the UST rector for sports. 

The Tigers have also tapped a pool of prized recruits, including Forthsky Padrigao from the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Kyle Paranada from the University of the East, Leland Estacio from California, Geremy Robinson from De La Salle University, and Ashon Andrews from the University of the Philippines.

All that to reinforce their core players bannered by Nic Cabañero, who led the league in points in Season 86, and Christian Manaytay, a reliable big man to complement Mahmood. 

“I spoke to the coaches, and you know, some of the players, and I think that culture shift over there is coming,” Mahmood said. 

“I’m looking forward to being a part of something big,” he added.

Mahmood will have a full five-year eligibility period for the Tigers starting in Season 87. 

With the roster shaping up to be a promising one, Mahmood is upbeat about his future in the Tigers’ lair, considering the impressive displays the team enjoys in off-season leagues such as the Pinoy Liga: Next Man Cup.

Last February 3, in the team’s most notable win yet, the Tigers pulled off an upset over reigning UAAP champion La Salle Green Archers, sans season MVP Kevin Quiambao, ending UST’s nine-year-long losing streak against the Taft-based squad in the sport.

The Tigers, who have been fielding mostly new recruits, also hold wins versus NCAA champion San Beda Red Lions and the Adamson Soaring Falcons in Pinoy Liga.

For Mahmood, the early success could help push the Tigers to great heights starting next season.

“I’m looking forward to integrating with the team and seeing what coach Pido has to offer,” he said. “As well as getting back to the winning track and bringing us back to the championship.”

“I think that UST is going to be a name in the headlines all year, next year.” –

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