WHAT a difference seven months made.
After committing to suit up for the Growling Tigers last February, former Tiger Cubs star center Bismarck Lina dumped UST and chose to follow former Tigers skipper CJ Cansino at University of the Philippines.
Fighting Maroons coach Bo Perasol told Malaya-Business Insight that a final meeting with the 6-foot-5 Lina yesterday should seal the deal.
“Mamayang hapon pa iyong final meeting namin,” Perasol said.
“Sana matapos na,” he added.
Lina, a cousin of former “King Tiger” and pro player Kevin Ferrer, averaged 16.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in the last UAAP juniors’ cage wars.
He also suited up for Gilas Youth in the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship in 2018.
With UST’s fate hanging in the air due to allegations that former coach Aldin Ayo and the Tigers breached the government’s stringent COVID-19 health protocols when they held a training bubble at the hometown of Ayo in Capuy, Sorsogon City from mid-June to August, eight players have already left the squad.
Aside from Cansino and Lina, star forward Rhenz Abando, guard Brent Paraiso, and big man Ira Bataller have transferred to defending NCAA champion Letran, while reserve guard Jun Asuncion went to Mapua University.
Reigning Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy and wingman Deo Cuajao moved to La Salle.
Ayo stepped down as Tigers coach last Sept. 4 and was banned indefinitely by the UAAP in all league activities and events last Sept. 9.
The UAAP is eyeing to launch its 83rd season, set to be hosted by La Salle, early next year.
UP last won a title in 1986 behind pro league greats Benjie Paras and Ronnie Magsanoc, and Eric Altamirano.
Former Nazareth School of National University standouts Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano, La Salle Greenhills gunner RC Calimag, Xavier’s Miguel Tan, Fil-Am guard Sam Dowd, Fil-Canadians Alonso Tan and Anton Eusebio, and Fil-Australian Ethan Kirkness are among the rookies who can already play for State U in the 83rd UAAP basketball tournament.
Prized recruits Joel Cagulangan of La Salle, Jancork Cabahug of University of the Visayas, and Senegalese center Maodo Malick Diouf of Centro Escolar University have also transferred to UP but will have to serve the league required one-year residency before they could play in the 84th season like Cansino.