University of Santo Tomas should have been the school with the best chance of ending Ateneo’s reign in the UAAP.
Though the Growling Tigers saw Renzo Subido and Zach Huang play their final year in Season 82, they were able to recruit one-and-done floor general Joshua Fontanilla and skilled big man Bismarck Lina as replacements.
But in a matter of a few weeks, almost the school saw its entire Season 82 team wiped out.
“‘Yung mga bagay na hindi namin kontrolado, ‘yun ‘yung sumira sa amin eh,” admitted incoming sophomore Mark Nonoy in an episode of 2OT presented by Phenom Sportswear Inc.
From June to August, the Growling Tigers held a training camp in Capuy, Sorsogon — the hometown of head coach Aldin Ayo.
The camp itself saw the patience of each student-athlete and coaching staff tested. And the climax came when CJ Cansino was kicked off the team last August 20.
Cansino’s ousting from the team pulled a trigger.
The camp itself was exposed, and is currently being probed by three government agencies.
Besides Cansino, the rest of the Growling Tigers left the school one by one. The most recent departures are Nonoy and Cuajao, who bolted to La Salle.
Though not wanting to leave UST, the uncertainty of the whole situation led the two to make the tough decision.
“Malungkot po kasi sa amin naman gusto talaga namin naman na mag-stay sa UST. Pero kami, naka-hang lang kami. Hindi namin alam kung anong mangyayari and ‘yung career namin nakasalalay dito,” shared the 20-year-old Nonoy.
“Kung loyal sa loyal, loyal kami sa coaches saka sa UST. Pero hindi namin alam kung anong kalabasan ng mangyayari sa UST at sa coaches po, kaya kami nagdesisyon.”
It took Nonoy and Cuajao almost a month before they decided to pack their bags.
“Sa amin nga, last minute na kami nag desisyon kasi inaalam namin kung ano talaga ‘yung mangyayari sa team namin. Inaalam namin kung maba-ban or anong mangyayari.
“So wala pa rin. Hindi pa rin namin alam kung anong mangyayari sa team, kaya siguro it’s time na to maglipat na kami kasi hinahabol din namin ‘yung enrollment namin para makapasok kami sa one year residence po,” continued the native of La Carlota, Negros Occidental.
Out of the 12 Tigers from last season, only four remain as of publishing. And the story of that batch of Growling Tigers will remain a what-if.
Despite having a new home, it seems Nonoy will remain wondering what could have been.
“Para sa akin, siyempre mahirap din na iniwan namin UST kasi doon kami na-expose, doon kami nasanay. Grabe ‘yung ‘pag nag-cheer sila, all throughout the season nandiyan sila sa tabi namin,” expressed Nonoy.
“Hindi naman namin ginusto na umalis sa UST, pero ‘yung mga bagay na hindi namin pwede ma-control, ‘yun ‘yung nag-ano sa amin. Sa mga teammate namin na maiiwan, gawin niyo lang ‘yung best niyo. Ipakita niyo kung sino man ‘yung maging coaches diyan, gawin niyo lang yung lahat, ‘yung makakatulong kayo. Pasalamat tayo sa UST kasi nandiyan sila palagi para sa atin.”