As Mark Nonoy wins UAAP title, he wonders what could've been for UST | Inquirer Sports

As Mark Nonoy wins UAAP title, he wonders what could’ve been for UST

/ 05:58 PM December 11, 2023

Mark Nonoy La Salle UAAP Finals

Mark Nonoy, right, sheds tears after helping La Salle win the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball title.–MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines—Amid the din of La Salle’s long-awaited title celebration, Mark Nonoy was one of the many who shed tears of joy. But as soon as the dust settled, Nonoy began to wonder what could’ve been.

Nonoy can finally call himself a champion after helping the Green Archers get over the hump on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament. The cat-quick point guard, however, believes he would’ve won a championship sooner in his collegiate career with a different school back when he was still with University of Santo Tomas.


Nonoy was a key piece for the Growling Tigers along with  CJ Cansino, Rhenz Abando and Beninise forward Soulemane Chabi Yo. Cansino won a historic crown with University of the Philippines in Season 84, Abando along with another ex-Tiger in Brent Paraiso also won with Letran while Chabi Yo took his act to Europe following the pandemic.


But what if that very promising team didn’t fall from grace? Well, the graduating guard believes that they could’ve won not one, not two, but three straight championships under the guidance of former UST coach Aldin Ayo.

“I feel like, with Seasons 82, 83… Maybe we could’ve won a championship with that lineup. Maybe a three-peat even,” said Nonoy after tallying eight points and three rebounds in his final collegiate game.

“If all those things didn’t happen in our lineup in Season 82, we’d be on top because we had nine rookies in that Finals and we all had a lot of playing years left. Rhenz (Abando) had three, I had two and Chabi (Soulemane) had two as well. We had a lot of weapons.”

Mark Nonoy Rhenz Abando UST

FILE – Mark Nonoy, left, and Rhenz Abando.–Tristan Tamayo/

UST successfully found its way back to the UAAP Finals in 2019 but got swept by a much more experienced Ateneo squad bannered by Thirdy Ravena.

That finals loss, however, didn’t take away the fact that it was only a matter of time before the Growling Tigers could regain their old glory. With young guns under a proven tactician in Ayo, the future was bright in España. But then, the pandemic hit and the UST bubble fiasco happened. Next thing you know, what could’ve been a dominant team was unrecognizable as Nonoy and Co. were forced to head elsewhere.

Cansino was the first domino to fall after the Sorsogon bubble and he found his way to Diliman then Abando and Paraiso followed suit and moved to Muralla, Nonoy transferred to Taft while Chabi Yo secured a deal with a Spanish club.


But like Nonoy, Cansino is convinced that what they had with UST was more than good enough to win a championship had everything fallen into place.

“I’m so happy that all us friends experienced a championship but on the other end, it’s also very sad because this was our goal when we were in UST,” said Cansino after concluding his UP stint with five points.

“It’s just very sad that we all became champions in other schools but we couldn’t do it for UST.”


FILE – CJ Cansino.–Tristan Tamayo/

It was their bond as “brothers” that made Cansino believe that there was something brighter for UST after their Cinderella run in Season 82.

“For me, I feel like we could’ve been champions because I know our bonds as teammates and as brothers. Whenever we talk about it, we all know that we could’ve done it.”

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While Nonoy and Cansino helped La Salle and UP, respectively, to get to the top, UST found itself stuck in the rubble finishing dead last in the standings for the second straight season with a combined record of 3-25.

TAGS: La Salle Green Archers, Mark Nonoy, UAAP Season 86, UP Fighting Maroons, UST Growling Tigers

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