WHEN news broke out that the Student-Athletes Protection Bill has been approved by the Senate and Congress, one of the first persons to break the news to Hubert Cani was Jerie Pingoy.
Pingoy can no doubt relate to the case of Cani, who was about to enter the second year of this two-year residency following the former Bullpups star's transfer from National University to Ateneo.
Under the current UAAP rule crafted after Pingoy's controversial transfer from Far Eastern University to Ateneo, high school graduates moving to another member school are mandated to sit out for two years.
But now that the bill bearing Pinoy's name has been passed, Cani is set to be eligible to play in the UAAP since the bill outlaws residency periods for high school graduates transferring to a different school in college.
Cani is naturally excited.
“Ako na lang ‘yung hindi makakalaro. Bigla siyang tumawag sa akin, sabi niya, congrats,” said Cani of his conversation with Pingoy.
The bill authored by Sen. Pia Cayetano was passed by the Senate and Congress last June 10 and is now awaiting the signature of President Aquino before it becomes a law.
Without the President's signature, the bill is expected to lapse into law after one month, meaning it will be in effect well before the September 5 opening of the new UAAP season.
The 19-year-old Cani expressed excitement over the possibility that he will finally be playing for Ateneo this season, something that he has been waiting for since graduating at NU in high school after Season 75.
“Na-surprise din po ako sa nangyari kasi matagal na naming hinihintay ‘yun,” said Cani, who won the finals MVP award in 2013 after leading the NU Bullpups to the UAAP championship in Season 75.
“Sobrang natuwa ako na napasa na ‘yung law,” Cani added.
Even before the law was passed, Cani has been preparing for the possibility that he could suit up for Ateneo this season. He even joined the Blue Eagles during their training in Las Vegas.
Cani said the Las Vegas stint was a big help for him in further polishing his game as a combo-guard.
“Sa Las Vegas kasi sobrang laking exposure sa amin lalo na sa individual training. Marami kaming ginagawang drills,” said Cani, adding the Blue Eagles are now in the middle of their buildup for the coming Season 78.
“Sumasabay na ako sa training dahil malapit na ‘yung season kaya nagre-ready na kami. Sinisimulan na namin ‘yung hard training. ‘Yung mga plays, inuulit-ulit na rin namin,” Cani added.
As the season approaches, Cani also looking forward to finally play alongside reigning UAAP league MVP Kiefer Ravena.
“Siya na talaga ‘yung main man namin. Sobrang vocal niya, ‘yung leadership niya nandoon. Sobrang laking bagay para sa amin,” said Cani.