We bet you didn’t see CJ coming!

By Klyde Manansala | Photo by Tristan Tamayo

There weren’t any signs this was coming.

UST Growling Tigers rookie CJ Cansino was already making waves during the UAAP Juniors Season 80, having won the MVP award over Ateneo Blue Eaglets’ Kai Sotto after he averaged 24.6 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.4 steals per outing for the Tiger Cubs. But not many people expected the 19-year-old to be this extraordinary in college basketball.

As a new crop of potential stars start to build their resumes, Cansino is continuously showing off how hard he has worked his game—the deeper the season goes, the more it looks as if he’s staking his claim for the Rookie of the Year this season.

The wingman is definitely someone you would want to be part of your team: A low-maintenance player who has a high basketball IQ, a dead-eye from beyond the arc, a hustle rebounder (despite standing just 6’2”), a lethal inside operator, and a creator for his teammates.

“The young tiger is undoubtedly a hard worker, so long as he continues to make big strides, it’s not farfetched to see him go down as one of the best collegiate basketball players for UST and the league

Just as we thought we’ve already seen the best ball game of Cansino way back in the first round (where he tallied a 17-point and 17-rebound performance in a win over the UE Red Warriors), Cansino proved that there are more dimensions to his game than just putting the net on fire. Yesterday, Cansino became the first rookie to rack up triple-double figures in 15 years after finishing with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists in a triumph over the same team, 79-68.

With 51.1 seconds left in the final frame, Cansino easily threaded the needle to a cutting Zach Huang for the open lay-up, which gave UST a 74-62 breakwaway, thus giving Cansino his 10th assist to complement his historic triple-double.

As of now, Cansino’s impressive outings goes to show that he’s on the right track to his upside. If he doesn’t put up enough stellar numbers in the offensive end, he makes it up by making an impact on boards, defense, and ball-dishing plays. The young tiger is undoubtedly a hard worker, so long as he continues to make big strides, it’s not farfetched to see him go down as one of the best collegiate basketball players for UST and the league.