IT'S been 10 years since University of Santo Tomas was the home to the season's Rookie of the Year, back when Jeric Teng got the hardware in 2009.
But for Mark Nonoy, who is set to be named as the top neophyte of this batch, he'd rather not pressure himself to live up to the legacy of his predecessor.
It might be a great moment in the young career of the 19-year-old, but coach Aldin Ayo was quick to remind his young ward that he's already got his name out there and what matters now is getting the wins for the Growling Tigers.
"Sabi nga nila coach sa akin, hindi ko na kailangan magpakilala pa. Kailangan lang namin talaga is manalo talaga," he said. "Nandoon na yung individual award, so yung kailangan na lang talaga is ipanalo na lang every game kasi nandoon na yung award namin."
That's why as honored as he is to cop the award, the La Carlota, Negros Occidental native's concerns is more on the Growling Tigers' collective success.
"Di ko naman naisip yung mga maging Rookie of the Year, maging ako man o ano. Para sa akin, isang karangalan din para sa UST community na kami yung nakapanalo ng award na yun, pero iba rin kasi pag lahat kayo may award," he said. "Yung championship yung goal namin."
UST's path to its goal, however, takes it to University of the Philippines as it progresses in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball stepladder semifinals.
Though the Growling Tigers swept the Fighting Maroons in their elimination duels, Nonoy would be the first to say that nothing comes easy at this point.
"Di namin pwedeng i-underestimate yun kasi malalakas din sila. Sa amin talaga, gawin lang namin lahat ng ginawa namin noong summer," he said. "Yung training namin, yung mga sacrifices na ginawa namin sa family, ito na yun. Gawin lang namin yung best namin para mapanalunan yung UP."
UST and UP face off on Sunday.