CJ Cansino is embracing the leadership role for the University of the Philippines as he is set to make his UAAP return in Season 86 after missing the previous season due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in his right knee.
The last time Cansino suited up for the Fighting Maroons was in Game 3 of the Season 84 finals, where he played through the ACL tear and dropped 14 points, including the three-pointer that sent the game to overtime, against Ateneo, ending the school’s 36-year title drought.
In his return, Cansino is tasked with leading a young UP squad that no longer has players like Zavier Lucero, Carl Tamayo, Henry Galinato, James Spencer, and Brix Ramos.
The former UST star, however, welcomes the challenge of serving as a mentor to players like Francis Lopez, Seven Gagate, Luis Pablo, and Mark Belmonte, among others, as he aims to bring back the UAAP crown to Diliman.
“Sobrang laking challenge kasi pag bata, excited pa, marami pang kailangan ma-experience, kaya sobrang masaya ako kasi nakikinig din sila,” said Cansino during the UAAP Season 86 press conference at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
“So far, okay naman yung pagli-lead ko sa kanila kasi yung mga rookies at yung mga ibang teammates ko, tinutulungan ako para tulungan yung mga ibang rookies,” he continued.
“Yung mga rookies namin, lahat sila nakikinig naman eh. Wala naman matigas yung ulo o kaya naman parang dahil blue chip sila, alam nilang kaya nila, so tinatanggap nila yung pag-lead namin bilang kuya, kaya sobrang laking tuwa ko dahil dito.”
Regarding his return to the hardcourt, the former UAAP Juniors MVP said that he’s just glad to finally be able to play the sport that he loves after undergoing his second major surgery in his young career.
“Una sa lahat, sobrang saya ko kasi, hindi lang dahil nasa UAAP, kundi sobrang saya kasi makakabalik na ako sa paglalaro ng basketball. So yung childhood dream ko, yung saya ko sa paglalaro ng basketball bumalik na,” said Cansino.
“Alam mo yun, may excitement, yung pressure andon. Parang, sobrang halo-halo na yung nararamdaman ko, pero sobrang excited ako.”