MANILA, Philippines -- CJ Cansino is not yet 100 percent, but he is nonetheless going all-out in leading University of Santo Tomas' (UST) quest to return to the playoffs in the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament.
After a slow start to the season as he continues to recover from his ACL injury last year, Cansino is picking up steam at the right time and is well on his way in reclaiming a place as one of the league's brightest young stars.
The same sort of determination to get back to the semifinals is evident in Mar Prado of Adamson University.
In a crucial contest as the Lady Falcons sought to strengthen their stranglehold on the third-seed, she exploded for a career-best 40 points to go along with eight rebounds, six assists, four steals, and a block.
"'Di siya nagbwakaw para makuha 'yung 40 points niya," said coach Ewon Arayi of Prado's scoring outburst that got the most important statistic of all -- an Adamson win over University of the Philippines (UP). "Dinala pa rin niya 'yung team."
The 23-year-old did it in style, going 17-of-36 from the field en route to joining an elite club of only four female basketball players to breach the 40-point marker.
Both Prado and Cansino want nothing more than to help their teams keep playing until the next round, and for their efforts, they were hailed as co-awardees as Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Players of the Week.
The Lady Falcons' top gun is only the third women's player to receive the recognition decided upon by print and online scribes working the beat - following National University's Ria Nabalan and UP's Pat Pesquera.
For his part, this is Cansino's third taste of the weekly plum - following the two he got from his superb rookie season.
That one ended earlier than expected, however, as his left knee injury forced him to miss UST's last game and undergo rehab for nine months. He was only cleared for contact a month before the new season.
Because of that, the 6-foot-1 guard struggled in the earlygoing, averaging 4.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and less than one steal.
"Sobra akong na-frustrate nun kasi akala ko nagawa ko na lahat, akala ko kumpleto na ako," he shared. "Sabi ko nga before the season, 100 percent na ako, pero nung lumabas sa laro, hindi pa pala."
In the Growling Tigers' back-to-back wins in the last week, however, Cansino reminded everybody just why he was named team captain as a sophomore, with norms of 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.0 steals.
"Naging learning process sa akin 'yun na huwag mag-stop kahit feeling mong kumportable ka na," said the 19-year-old about what he did to get over his personal hump. "Make yourself feel uncomfortable every time para mag-work hard ka palagi."
Cansino and Prado made history together -- becoming only the third co-Players of the Week in the history of the collegiate ranks alongside Nabalan and Ateneo de Manila University's Ange Kouame in the UAAP as well as San Beda University's Robert Bolick and Colegio de San Juan de Letran's Bong Quinto in the NCAA.
The co-Players of the Week edged out L-Jay Gonzales of FEU, Jun Manzo of UP, and Isaac Go of Ateneo for the recognition.
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