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Cansino eager to come back strong from season-ending injury

CJ Cansino's stellar rookie season for the UST Growling Tigers was cut short after suffering a devastating ACL injury on his left knee.

Cansino went up for a layup in the second quarter in UST's matchup versus the UP Fighting Maroons on Saturday and fell on the floor writhing in pain. After an MRI test, his worst fears came in reality with an ACL tear.

The 19-year-old budding star will now begin the long arduous road to recovery starting with an operation next Monday.

"It's part of basketball," Cansino said in Filipino after UST's final game against the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Wednesday. "I'm just being positive because I really love basketball."

"I'm already preparing what I'll do after the operation," he added.

More than Cansino's stellar averages of 12.8 points on 44 percent shooting, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, the athletic forward has given UST hope for the future. After enduring back-to-back losing seasons, the Tigers have a star in the making. The freshman played well above his age and showcased potential and promise. His versatility was highlighted this season after becoming the first rookie since 2003 to record a triple-double. With the uncanny ability to get into the lane at will and with his innate skill of rebounding, he'll be a focal point for the Tigers moving forward.

When asked if he could rate his season, he said he went 10 out of 10. "Because as a rookie, you wouldn't expect that I would play this way," he explained. "I'm just thankful for God and coach (Aldin Ayo) for giving me a chance."

After his injury, Cansino will be out for six to eight months recovering. Despite the long layoff, he's not easily discouraged as he already went through a grueling groin injury that forced him to miss a significant amount of time. And for the former UAAP Juniors MVP, he's not pressured to rush the process.

"I'm looking at the timeline on when I'll be back and I think I'll have two months left (before the UAAP season)," he said. "I know that the coaches will help when I get back so I don't feel the pressure."

And after displaying his offensive skills in his first year, Cansino aspires to improve on the defensive end and bulk up.

"I'll work in the offseason so that I'll be able ready for the opening of Season 82. I'm making it a promise that I'll make it," Cansino said, drawing inspiration from teammate Renzo Subido who also went through an ACL injury.

Cansino's impressive rookie season may have ended in injury but says he has no regrets and remains hopeful of what lies ahead.

"I have trust in God that everything has a purpose," he said confidently. "I'm just going to play the game and let God decide what happens to me."