In the off-season, whenever first-year UST head coach Aldin Ayo was asked about his recruits, he always had a short and sweet answer.
“We have CJ Cansino.”
And just after the first round of eliminations in the UAAP 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament, CJ Cansino has already proven his coach correct for having that much faith in him.
The do-it-all swingman has come to play right out the gates in his rookie season and, in fact, finds himself already among the contenders for Rookie of the Year – and even more, for MVP.
Cansino delivered two of his best games thus far in two of the Growling Tigers’ best games, averaging 11 points, 11 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.0 steals in their back-to-back wins in the span of four days, en route to his first-ever recognition as the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Sports Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week.
First, he posted a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double to go along with six assists and two steals in their blowout win over the UP Fighting Maroons last Wednesday.
Four days later, he didn’t score as much with just five markers, but made his presence felt elsewhere with 12 boards and three dimes as they took down the FEU Tamaraws.
For the 19-year-old, all of what he does is for the school that has believed in him ever since he was in high school. “Gusto ko lang ibigay yung best ko for UST, kaya kahit pa nung Juniors hanggang ngayon, ‘pag pumapasok ako sa loob ng court, binibigay ko talaga yung best ko,” he said.
What matters more than the individual numbers for Cansino, though, are the wins, which also saw many UST players stepping up.
“Lahat talaga ng effort namin as a team, lumalabas na. Kung paano kami nagpa-pracitce, nadadala na namin dito.”
Even so, the former Juniors MVP has only vowed to keep working hard. “Masaya ako na yung extra hard work ko, lumalabas din, pero dagdag motivation lang yun para mas galingan ko pa,” he said.
Cansino bested another breakout Growling Tiger in Zachy Huang as well as the Ateneo duo of Thirdy Ravena and Ange Kouame, La Salle main man Aljun Melecio, and John Lloyd Clemente, another of NU’s promising first-year players, for the weekly award given by print and online scribe covering the beat.