MANILA, Philippines -- Not even a gimpy left ankle could keep rookie CJ Cansino from suiting up for University of Santo Tomas (UST) -- not when the Growling Tigers needed all the wins they can get in UAAP Season 81.
The rookie -- who is averaging 13.4 points and 10.8 rebounds this year -- needed to be helped back to their dugout after a bad landing with just 4:20 left to play in their game against Adamson University on Wednesday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum, having contested a shot by Sean Manganti.
Remarkably, Cansino made it back to the game with two minutes left, much to the delight of the UST gallery at the Big Dome. Unfortunately, his return could not lift the Growling Tigers: they bowed to the Soaring Falcons, 96-83, to drop to 5-7 in the season.
"Medyo masakit siya pero hindi ko na ininda; may pinainom lang sa akin," said Cansino. "Noong una, sobrang sakit, pero pababa 'yung sakit niya, tapos kinaya ko naman ilaro."
That he would return to the game was a no-brainer for Cansino.
"Oo, kasi kailangan talaga ang panalo eh, so hindi ko na inisip kung ano 'yung mangyayari. Basta gusto ko lang talaga manalo," he explained.
His decision, of course, came with a price. Cansino admitted after the game that he was still experiencing pain in the Achilles region of his ankle.
He expects to undergo an x-ray Thursday, but is optimistic that he will not miss any games.
Cansino's display of toughness was hailed by UST head coach Aldin Ayo, who said: "Hindi naman matatawaran ang fighting spirit ng batang 'yun. Hangga't kaya nun, talagang mag-lalaro 'yun."
"Kanina nga, noong pinapa-trap ko, sabi sa akin, 'Coach, hindi ko kaya mag-trap kasi medyo masakit eh.' Sabi ko, 'Masakit lang 'yan eh.' Hindi naman delikado," he revealed.
"Nag-konsulta naman ako sa PT namin, hindi naman delikado, hindi naman career-threatening. So sabi ko, just overcome it, kailangan natin mag-laro," he added.
Ayo said Cansino will likely rest on Thursday before doing some shooting drills on Friday. He expects the rookie to be ready when they play University of the Philippines on Saturday.
Their game against the Fighting Maroons is a must-win for the Growling Tigers, if they hope to stay alive in the Final 4 race.
"At least may pag-asa, 'yun naman ang ano, may pag-asa pa rin. So hindi kami susuko, gagawin namin lahat, one game at a time pa din. Then makikipag-compete kami until umabot kami sa Final 4," said Cansino.
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