UAAP Season 82 Preview: Cansino eager to bounce back for Growling Tigers

Sophomore star CJ Cansino is ready to lead the UST Growling Tigers this coming Season 82.

Cansino took the league by storm last year. He posted impressive averages of 12.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists before he sustained an ACL injury that caused him to miss the final game of his debut season.

After nine months of rehabilitation, the young Cansino will navigate his way back into the spotlight with a captain's badge to boot.

"CJ is a complete player," said UST head coach Aldin Ayo. "Although he's a sophomore, the team's respect for him is already there and I think he can lead us."

Ayo almost built the team from scratch when he took the reins last year. The rebuilding Tigers showed their potential but they lost their chance of battling for a Final Four slot when they slid to a series of losses to end the season. Still, they were able to rise from the cellar amid the huge adjustments that they had to undergo.

Now entering his second year, Ayo will parade a reloaded lineup that's raring to take UST to an even higher level now that the system is already in place.

Soulemane Chabi Yo, a 6-foot-6 big man from Benin, and Mark Nonoy, a standout playmaker from UST high school, will headline the team's fresh haul of talented recruits.

The Tigers will also feature rookie Sherwin Concepcion and transferees Rhenz Abando and Brent Paraiso. Co-captain Zach Huang, Renzo Subido, and Enrique Caunan will provide the much-needed veteran presence.

And of course, all eyes will be on Cansino as he takes on the daunting task of steadying the ship in just his second year in the league.

"I'm happy that coach gave me the responsibility to be the team captain even though I'm just a sophomore," said Cansino. "I want to lead the team to wins and a championship. I will do everything to help the coaching staff and my teammates so that we can all grow together until we reach our goal."

While Ayo is excited to unleash mayhem anew with his beefed-up roster, he's quick to admit that the level of competition remains tough as the rest of the field have retooled as well.

"Our lineup became decent but if you look at the other teams, they also improved," said Ayo. "We're just hoping for the best and we're just going to do our best."