NOW in his second year, Nic Cabanero is primed to have a bigger role at University of Santo Tomas.
"Motivation ko is yung makalaban yung mga well-known players. Nai-inspire din ako so ang iniisip ko rin sa utak ko na gusto kong manalo at gusto kong talunin sila," he told Spin.ph, rattling the names of Ricci Rivero, Justine Baltazar, SJ Belangel, and Jerom Lastimosa as among those who he really looked forward to playing.
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Cabanero, 18, was one of the few bright spots for the Growling Tigers in UAAP Season 84, leading the team with his 12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.0 steal in his rookie year.
But the Growling Tigers could only come up with three wins.
"As a sophomore, ang iniisip ko kasi is gusto kong manalo, given na rin na kailangan ko tulungan yung upcoming rookies namin na ma-boost confidence kasi napagdaanan ko rin yung hirap tsaka kaba during the game," he said, establishing himself as one of the Growling Tigers' foundational pieces in the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup and in the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.
A fringe off-the-bench option for San Beda in his high school days, he immediately got thrusted into a larger role in the collegiate level in UST.
"I just needed to improve kung ano yung kulang ko and good thing din na lumaki ako ng konti. Malaking factor sa akin yun as a basketball player na mag-improve individually kasi iniisip ko lang din na makatulong ako sa team," the 6-foot-2 forward said.
With a collegiate year already under his belt, Cabanero only has one thing in mind heading into UAAP Season 85.
"Gusto ko lang talaga mabalik yung korona sa España," he said.