MANILA, Philippines – The second round of the UAAP Season 81 tournament has just started, but National University's Dave Ildefonso is ready to concede the rookie of the year race.
The quest for the top rookie award appeared to be a two-man race between Ildefonso and University of Santo Tomas swingman CJ Cansino, with both youngsters putting up strong performances in the first round of the eliminations.
After one round, however, it was clear that Cansino had built a big lead over Ildefonso.
Ildefonso averaged 14 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3 assists per game for the Bulldogs – superb numbers for a rookie. But Cansino was better, norming 14.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists for the Growling Tigers.
Indeed, so impressive was Cansino that he made it to the Top 10 of the MVP race, coming in seventh place in the statistical points list. Ildefonso, meanwhile, was in 13th place.
Moreover, UST emerged as the surprise package of the first round, compiling a 3-4 record. In contrast, NU struggled, mustering only 2 wins – way short of expectations.
"Siguro di ko na rin iniisip 'yung rookie of the year," Ildefonso said on Sunday, after the Bulldogs slumped to yet another loss – this time a 69-58 defeat to Adamson University.
"Kasi kung isipin naman natin, deserving talaga siya (Cansino), and ang layo ko na rin," he pointed out. "So I think, bigay na lang sa kanya (ang rookie of the year)."
More than the rookie of the year race, Ildefonso's focus is on salvaging the Bulldogs' season. They currently have a 2-6 win-loss record, good for just seventh place in the standings.
"Kailangan naming manalo talaga," said Ildefonso, who had 21 points in a loss to Adamson. "We don't need another five-game skid, we need to win and keep winning para hindi mamatay 'yung Final 4 hopes namin."
They will try to return to the win column on Sunday, when they take on the Growling Tigers in a rematch. The Bulldogs took the win in Round 1, beating UST 75-70 with Ildefonso registering 19 points and 7 boards.
Cansino, meanwhile, had 20 points and 10 rebounds in a losing effort.
But the Growling Tigers have the momentum heading into the game, as they have won three games in a row to hike their record to 4-4.
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