THE massive recruitment spree this month has boosted University of the Philippines' stock in the future UAAP men's basketball wars.
The Fighting Maroons set in motion the coup by securing the commitment of Nazareth School of National University's 1-2 punch Carl Tamayo and Gerry Abadiano, while Cyril Gonzales, formerly of Mapua, joined his former Bullpups teammates to Diliman.
The biggest of them all is CJ Cansino, who immediately moved on from the controversial removal by University of Santo Tomas and chose to join an already stacked up UP squad seeking to remain as one of contenders to unseat powerhouse Ateneo.
Coach Bo Perasol welcomed Cansino’s decision to commit to the Maroons and assured the former Growling Tigers captain that he will help him adjust to the new environment.
“CJ will be a great addition to ensuring the sustainability of the program, especially with possibly just one player left from last season playing for Season 84. I will personally help him make the transition to being a Fighting Maroon. CJ will definitely enjoy his stay in UP,” Perasol said.
The 20-year old Cansino will be eligible to suit up for UP in Season 84 after serving a one-year residency.
Cansino's entry will be timely as he, together with another transferee Malick Diouf and possibly brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, will ably fill the void left by Kobe Paras, Ricci Rivero and Bright Akhuetie, who will play their final year of eligibility in Season 83.
Diouf, a former Centro Escolar University standout, will also serve his one-year residency while the De Liaños will sit out the next campaign.
A UAAP Season 80 Juniors MVP, Cansino is glad to be on his new home after a heartbreaking end to his two-year stint with the Tigers.
“Unang-una sa lahat, UST is my dream school kaya nalulungkot talaga ako sa nangyari. Hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan ang UST and thankful ako sa kanila na binigyan nila ako ng opportunity, pero I need to move on,” Cansino said.
After the news broke out that Cansino and the Tigers have parted ways Thursday, players from almost every school has already made a pitch to Cansino, among them are La Salle, Adamson, National University and Ateneo, as well as successful NCAA programs such as Letran and San Beda.
But in the end, Cansino, who talked to almost all the coaches in the UAAP, ultimately used his gut feel for his decision to bring his talents to UP and it was a great feeling after talking to Perasol.
“Noong natanggap ko na, na hindi na ako puwede sa UST, marami po akong kinausap and kinonsulta. Ang naging pakiramdam ko po ay mas bagay talaga ako sa UP, mas comfortable ako sa UP,” said Cansino.
Team manager Agaton Uvero said that the Maroons are happy to have the multi-talented former high school star join the squad.
“We wanted him to play for UP when he graduated from UST high school two years ago, but his heart has always been with UST. We are happy and lucky that he chose to be part of the Fighting Maroons this time,” Uvero said.