MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) head coach Aldin Ayo always had a short and sweet answer whenever he was asked about their recruitment during the offseason.
"We have CJ Cansino," was the refrain of the former Colegio de San Juan de Letran and De La Salle University coach.
After just the first round of the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball tournament, Cansino has already showed why Ayo has so much faith in him.
The do-it-all swingman has come to play right out of the gates in his rookie season, and has found himself among the contenders not just for Rookie of the Year but also for Most Valuable Player honors.
Cansino delivered two of his best games for the Growling Tigers last week, averaging 11 points, 11 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.0 steal in back-to-back wins over four days.
For his efforts, the rookie earned his first-ever recognition as the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Sports Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week.
Cansino posted a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double to go along with 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals in their blowout win over University of the Philippines last Wednesday.
Four days later, he settled for just five points but grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out three assists in a 78-70 victory over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws.
For the 19-year-old, all of what he does is for the school that has believed in him ever since he was in high school. “Gusto ko lang ibigay 'yung best ko for UST kaya kahit pa nung Juniors hanggang ngayon, 'pag pumapasok ako sa loob ng court, binibigay ko talaga yung best ko,” he said.
What matters more than the individual numbers for Cansino, though, are the wins which also saw many UST players stepping up. “Lahat talaga ng effort namin as a team, lumalabas na. Kung paano kami nagpa-practice, nadadala na namin dito,” he said.
Cansino bested another breakout Growling Tiger in Zachy Huang as well as the Ateneo de Manila University duo of Thirdy Ravena and Ange Kouame, La Salle main man Aljun Melecio, and John Lloyd Clemente, another of National University’s promising first-year players, for the weekly award given by print and online scribe covering the beat.
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