DESPITE the controversial circumstances that led to his surprise transfer, former UST Growling Tiger CJ Cansino is a welcome addition to the UP Maroons and to the UP-Diliman sports community, according to UP College of Human Kinetics dean Francis Diaz.
“Definitely, I am elated by this development and we welcome CJ with embracing arms,” Diaz said yesterday after the former UST team captain made the move to join the Maroons following a misunderstanding with UST mentor Aldin Ayo, who reportedly sacked him from the team.
Cansino’s decision was made public last Saturday, inadvertently revealing that the Tigers had been training in Ayo’s hometown of Sorsogon, Sorsogon since June in possible violation of the Joint Administrative Order issued last July by national government authorities overseeing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The JAO is a set of health guidelines crafted by the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusements Board, the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force overseeing the virus crisis for professional teams in the PBA and PFL and some national teams in combat sports to resume actual training.
PSC chairman Butch Ramirez said that they had video evidence of the Tigers conducting face-to-face workouts in June, hinting the squad may have violated the quarantine protocols laid down by the IATF.
Together with PSC national training director Marc Velasco, Ramirez met over the weekend with officials of the GAB, DOH and the UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag and La Salle athletic director Nonog Calanog, UAAP Season 83 president.
UST school management declined to attend the virtual meeting but announced yesterday on its official Twitter account that it had formed a committee to investigate the matter, even as Saguisag said the UAAP board would likewise conduct a separate probe of its own.
Diaz said he would rather focus on what Cansino, a former UST high school basketball phenom, could expect once he completes the process of his transfer to the state university and the Maroons bannered by veterans Kobe Paras, Ricci Rivero and former UAAP MVP Bright Akhuetie.
UP coach Bo Perasol steered the Maroons to the Final Four, where they were swept by the Tigers in the best-of-3 playoffs, last year.
“He (Cansino) is already familiar with some of our players. I am sure there will be some adjustments that he has to make but we also have a couple of new faces, some other talented recruits so he won’t be alone,” Diaz said.
Cansino will join the ranks of fellow newbies RC Calimag, a former La Salle Greenhills standout; and talented Fil-Canadian Anton Eusebio, who will be serving one year of residency under UAAP rules before they can suit up for the Maroons.
Diaz said they are the result of the progressive basketball program that Perasol put in place, backed by a supportive UP alumni who include the likes of Sen. Sonny Angara, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla and Robina Gokongwei, daughter of the late business tycoon John Gokongwei; and Paymaya head Orlando Vea.
They are among the prominent members of the Nowhere To Go But UP Foundation that was formed to support UP’s varsity athletes and the school’s sports programs.
Diaz said it was Remulla who donated a tourist bus last year for the exclusive use of the UP men’s basketball squad
“The management of the men’s basketball program has taken a progressive direction since Perasol took over as coach four years ago so the alumni seem to be happy with the success and continue to support it generously,” he said.
He said that Cansino will be coming at a most exciting and opportune time for UP sports since it is set to build a P600-million five-story dormitory and training center for its varsity athletes, with the first phase to start next year.
“We will have all our athletes all under one roof so that their sports and academic requirements will be facilitated better,” Diaz said, adding that the building will have a fitness and conditioning center while even the nutrition will be provided for.
He said that the new UP basketball stadium located within the UP-CHK grounds would also be finished in November “so our basketball teams will have a new home.”