FOR a moment, University of Santo Tomas fans were right at te edge their seats as star rookie CJ Cansino struggled to get back on his feet.
The 19-year-old rookie had a bad landing after contesting Simon Camacho's drive and had to be taken out of the game with 4:16 remaining.
"Medyo sumasakit yung Achilles dahil na rin pagbagsak ko," he said as therapists quickly tried to work on his right ankle.
Two minutes later, Cansino was back on the court and fought through the pain to finish the game for the Growling Tigers.
"Medyo masakit pa pero hindi ko na ininda. Sobrang sakit pero kinaya ko pa rin," he explained of his decision to play. "Kailangan naming manalo eh. Hindi ko na inisip yung mangyayari basta gusto ko lang manalo."
Aldin Ayo commended the rookie for playing on.
"Hindi naman matatawaran yung fighting spirit ng batang yun. Hangga't kaya nun, talagang maglalaro yun," the fiery mentor said.
Ayo even shared one instance during those last two minutes where he challenged Cansino to step up on defense despite his injured ankle.
"Kanina nga nung pinapa-trap ko, sabi niya sa akin , 'Coach, di ko kaya mag-trap kasi medyo masakit eh.' Sabi ko, 'Sakit lang yan eh. Di naman delikado.' Kinonsulta ko naman yung PT namin at sabi hindi naman delikado. Hindi naman career-threatening, so sabi ko, 'Just overcome it.' Kailangan natin maglaro. And he did."
Unfortunately, Cansino's valiant effort, which saw him finish with 17 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, was not enough as Adamson dealt UST a 96-83 defeat to go down to 5-7 in the ongoing UAAP Season 81 cage wars.
Though Cansino remains in pain, Ayo is hardly concerned that the future of UST is in danger of missing the team's next games - though clarified that he'll give the former UAAP Juniors MVP some breather before the game on Saturday against UP.
"Hindi naman severe eh, pero syempre masakit. Ni-retape lang yun tapos laban uli. So siguro baka ipahinga ko muna sa Thursday. Sa Friday, baka mag-shooting shooting na lang para maging ready sa Saturday," he said.
Cansino feels the same way.
"Hindi pa namin alam, pero i-check namin bukas. Ipa-x-ray namin bukas, and then titingnan namin kung kaya. Tingin ko kaya naman," he said.
The 6-foot-2 guard also isn't losing faith on the Growling Tigers' Final Four chances, even with a tough final two assignments against UP and Ateneo next.
"At least, may pag-asa pa rin," he said. "Hindi kami susuko. Gagawin namin ang lahat, one game at a time pa rin. Magko-compete kami hanggang sa umabot kami sa Final Four."