UAAP: Nonoy, Cuajao have one season to adjust to La Salle system

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2020 03:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Transferees Mark Nonoy and Deo Cuajao will be busy during their residency year as De La Salle University head coach Derrick Pumaren expects them to master the Green Archers' system during that period.

Nonoy and Cuajao left University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the wake of the "Sorsogon bubble" controversy, deciding instead to take their talents to Taft to play for the Green Archers.

They will have to sit out one year before suiting up for La Salle in Season 84, with Pumaren expecting them to be major contributors to his team immediately. 

"With the acquisition namin kay Nonoy, siya ang papalit kay (Aljun) Melecio pagdating ng 84," Pumaren said during a recent appearance on "The Chasedown." 

"And then, probably si Deo will replace si (Kurt) Lojera, kasi four ang players ko na magga-graduate after Season 83," he added. 

Pumaren is confident that both players will take well to the La Salle system, especially as his trademark pressing defense has similarities to the "mayhem" style that Nonoy and Cuajao learned in UST under Aldin Ayo.

Nonoy, in his first season with the Growling Tigers, averaged 11.1 points, 3.83 rebounds, and 2.78 assists to win Rookie of the Year honors. Cuajao, meanwhile, shone in UST's abbreviated PBA D-League stint earlier this year when he normed 17.5 points in two games.

"I think they will be, sa tingin ko naman, good replacement for the guys graduating," said Pumaren of the pair.

"We want the guys to be ready pagdating ng 84. So itong sila Nonoy, they have one year to get them ready for Season 84, so adjust to the system ng La Salle," he added. "Pagdating doon, ready na."

"Hindi 'yung pagdating ng Season 84, doon pa lang namin sila ipe-prepare, hindi ganoon ang program namin ngayon," he stressed.

Nonoy and Cuajao are joining a La Salle team that is looking to return to the top of the UAAP, after back-to-back fifth-place finishes. 

The university handed Pumaren the keys to the program in January, with the veteran coach returning to the squad that he first handled in the late 1980s.