In its star’s absence, UST shows promise heading into next season
Losing star CJ Cansino was a huge blow for University of Santo Tomas in its penultimate game of the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament against University of the Philippines.
The Growling Tigers were up 34-26 when Cansino sprained his left knee with 5:57 left to play in the second quarter—a precursor to the disaster waiting to happen.
Cansino’s absence allowed the Fighting Maroons to take over and eventually take the 83-69 win that eliminated the Growling Tigers from Final Four contention.
UST stayed at the sixth seed with a 5-8 record the most it can get to is a 6-8 slate, which isn’t enough for a Final Four slot.
Nevertheless, the guts the substitutes showed in Cansino’s absence left an imprint in the team’s leadership.
“Tobi [Agustin] and Josh [Marcos] tried, they stepped up, they did their best but it was just too difficult to overcome,” said UST head coach Aldin Ayo in Filipino Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Captain Marvin Lee said he immediately told his teammates to do whatever they can to try and make up for what Cansino brought to the team.
Cansino was averaging 13.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists before the Growling Tigers faced the Fighting Maroons.
“I told them to step up, do our best,” said Lee who finished with a game-high 26 points and five rebounds.
As for the two players Ayo mentioned, Marcos had three points, four rebounds, and three assists while Agustin had three boards.
“I’m happy for the rookies and the holdovers, actually the entire team, because even though we prepared for this season we already started late,” said Ayo who is in his first year with UST. “We lost, there’s no excuse for that but what we gained is a good experience for the whole team.”
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