Rookie CJ Cansino’s heart has always belonged to UST
MANILA, Philippines – Whether or not Aldin Ayo decided to pack his bags and move from La Salle to University of Santo Tomas, the Growling Tigers would have still had the good news of knowing that the basketball program’s prized high school standout, CJ Cansino, would commit to the seniors' team.
Cansino – who debuted with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds in the UAAP match that UST came close to stealing from National U – said the Tigers have always been his first pick.
“Malaki din yung factor nandito siya, pero first option ko talaga, hindi dahil kay coach Ayo kung di para sa UST. Ito talaga yung option ko. Sabi ko pag nag laro ako ng college, sabi ko gusto ko UST,” said last season's UAAP high school MVP.
(It's a big factor that coach Ayo is here, but UST has always been my first choice. I always told myself that if I played college ball, it would be at UST.)
Cansino went on to explain how he wants to help UST go back to its winning days. Since making the finals three times between 2012 to 2015, the Growling Tigers have been at the bottom of the league standings the past two years.
“Yun yung gusto ko mangyari – maangat yung UST hindi lang dahil sa pangalan ko, kung di dahil sa team," he said. "Yun yung una kong sinasabi na, hindi para kay Cansino, kung di para sa UST, kaya okay lang kung di ako yung naglalaro. Manalo yung UST, masaya na ako.”
(I want to help UST start winning, not necessarily because of me, but because of the team. It’s fine with me if I don’t play. As long as UST wins, I’m happy.)
Cansino, who's one of the Tigers' nine rookies this season, averaged 24.6 points and 12.9 rebounds in his senior high school campaign last year.
While Ayo’s presence wasn’t the main factor why he committed to UST, Cansino can’t deny that the arrival of the champion coach has yielded dividends for him and his teammates.
“Sobrang laki. Hindi lang inside the court. Pati na rin yung off the court. Unang-una, yung depensa, dahil alam naman noong high school ako, wala akong depensa, so yun talaga yung tinuro. Napansin sa akin nagkaroon ako ng depensa,” said Cansino.
(It’s a big factor, not just inside the court. First of all, my defense improved. Everyone knew I wasn’t a good defender in high school, so that’s what they worked on. They’ve noticed I’ve started playing defense.)
“And off the court, mga values – kung gaano kahalaga yung education more than basketball.”
(Off the court, it’s about values, like how much more important education is than basketball.)
Cansino said Ayo has played the role of more than a head coach, a similar sentiment Ayo's former Letran and La Salle players had.
“Hindi lang parang kaibigan si coach Aldin para sa akin. Para na siyang tatay kasi biruan at yung mga aral na tinuturo niya sa akin parang tatay na din naman siya. Tatay and kuya.”
(Coach Aldin is like a dad to me who jokes around and teaches me lessons. He’s like a dad and brother.)
While UST is expected to turn a winning page, there’s no denying the young team may face difficulties in the first year of the rebuild. So Cansino and his teammates aren’t guaranteeing victories just yet, but they're promising that the Growling Tigers will consistently display effort.
“Walang assurance pero we’re going to compete, bigay namin yung best namin lahat talaga, as in simula una hangang dulo, hindi kami bibitaw. Walang assurance pero may assurance kami na ibibigay namin yung best.”
(There’s no assurance that we'll win, but we’re going to compete and give our best, from start to finish.) – Rappler.com