CJ Cansino will be ready for University of Santo Tomas on opening day.
That's the assurance coach Aldin Ayo gave as the sophomore guard looks ahead to his comeback this UAAP Season 82.
UST takes on University of the East in the season's first game at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 4.
"Almost two or three weeks na siya nagpa-practice. He'll be ready," said Ayo, lauding the team's physical therapists in getting the former UAAP Juniors MVP back to his old deadly form.
"They made sure na pagbalik ni CJ, full blast na lahat. Walang lilimitahan na minuto. We made sure na pagbalik niya, he's ready to play."
Cansino saw his rookie season cut short as he suffered an ACL injury on his left knee last year in a second-round game against University of the Philippines.
That put an end to his superb freshman year, where the 6-foot-1 guard netted 12.8 points on a 44-percent shooting from the field, to go with 10.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.
He also became the first rookie to notch a triple-double when he posted 20 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in a game against University of the East in the first round.
The 19-year-old Cansino has also been named team captain in only his second year.
"Right now, siya lang ang sophomore na captain ball," the mentor shared. "It's not because may gagawin kaming bago, but sa players namin ngayon, we have lots of leaders. Si Renzo Subido, Zach Huang, he's the co-captain, and si Enrique Caunan."
"Pero si CJ, buo yung batang yun eh. Although he's a sophomore, yung respeto sa kanya ng team, nandoon na and I think he can lead us."
For his part, Cansino looks at this new role as a big morale boost as UST enters the year with heightened expectations.
"Masaya ako kasi binigyan ako ni coach ng responsibility na maging team captain kahit sophomore pa lang ako, pero at the same time, binigyan niya ako ng confidence dahil sa dami ng players, ako pa yung napili niya," he said.
"Gusto ko ma-lead yung team sa mga panalo at sa championship. Gagawin ko lahat nang makakaya ko every game at every practice para matulungan yung coaching staff pati yung teammates ko para mag-grow kami lahat hanggang maabot namin yung goal namin," he said.
Cansino's return will give UST a potent backcourt combo, with rookie Mark Nonoy also showing immense promise in the Growling Tigers' offseason preparations.
And that only adds to Ayo's excitement heading into the season.
"I'm excited. Ready na ang whole team. We can't wait to play that first game against UE," he said.