MANILA, Philippines -- University of Santo Tomas (UST) rookie CJ Cansino continues to turn heads in UAAP Season 81, as he racks up one impressive performance after another.
On Sunday against the hapless University of the East (UE), Cansino became the first rookie in 15 years to register a triple-double, tallying 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists in a 79-68 triumph for the Growling Tigers.
He helped spark UST's breakaway in the second quarter, as he assisted on Marvin Lee's three three-pointers that highlighted their 16-2 run. His sixth dime of the first half resulted in a triple for Lee that helped them build a 39-31 lead.
Cansino would not get his triple-double until there was just 51.1 seconds left, when he assisted on Zachy Huang's bucket inside the paint that gave UST a 74-62 advantage. Afterward, the rookie insisted that he was not aware of his numbers, though he was obviously thrilled to have earned a spot in UAAP history.
"Focused lang ako sa sistema ni coach. Wala akong pake kung mag-triple-double man or hindi, pero masaya ako na nakuha ko," said Cansino, who is the second player in UAAP Season 81 to get a triple-double after Juan Gomez de Liano of University of the Philippines.
For the rookie, his feat is a credit to the system that was put in place by head coach Aldin Ayo.
"Sinunod ko lang kasi 'yung sistema eh, 'yung sistema na sharing the ball at lahat kailangan gumana," Cansino explained. "So thankful ako sa sistema dahil na-fit sa akin, kaya ko nakuha 'yung triple-double."
More than getting a triple-double, Cansino was glad to have made up for his errors in their previous game -- a 69-61 loss to National University (NU). Against the Bulldogs, the rookie grabbed 18 rebounds but had only 8 points, and was outplayed by budding rival Dave Ildefonso down the stretch.
"After the game, pinanood ko agad 'yung replay, 'yung mga lapses ko rin," he said. "Sabi ko, improve ko talaga, so 'yun 'yung naging extra motivation."
Cansino never managed to get a triple-double in high school, when he starred for the UST Tiger Cubs. To have gotten one as a rookie in college surprised even the 6-foot-1 swingman, who turned 19 on Saturday.
"Hindi talaga. Siguro, winork ko lang, tapos help ng coaches na gabayan ako sa game, kaya ko nakuha siguro ito," he said.
For Ayo, who considered Cansino as the gem of his first recruiting class for UST, it's all about maximizing the young player's potential.
"I know that ever since na kinuha ko si CJ, patulungan siya na mag-materialize lahat ng potential niya," said Ayo. "Again, kami, gusto lang namin."
"CJ is full of potential, and gusto lang namin na mag-materialize 'yun. I hope na hindi siya makuntento, that he continues improving," he added.
"The good thing about CJ is that he always responds whenever sinasabihan namin. Tulad ng lahat na nangyari against NU, 'yung lapses ni CJ doon sa NU, and hindi nawawalan ng kumpyansa si CJ eh. He always responds."
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