THE DE LA SALLE University (DLSU) Green Archers and the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons dominated the just-concluded UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Both teams showed a lot of passion, dedication and grit throughout the series as they strived for the ultimate prize, the UAAP Season 86 championship. However, one would ultimately succeed, and one would fail in their quest.
The DLSU Green Archers were successful in bringing back the championship to Taft Avenue after almost seven years while the Katipunan-based team fell short of another championship run.
Evan Nelle and CJ Cansino, two college standouts from each team, ended their collegiate careers on a different note. To end their illustrious collegiate careers, one had a pleasant finish while the other had a bitter taste.
One “Taft” journey for Nelle
Before transferring to DLSU, Nelle spent his second year with the San Beda Red Lions, where he helped them sweep the elimination stage but was defeated in three games by the Letran Knights in the finals.
This defeat compelled the 24-year-old point guard to transfer to La Salle as he also claimed that he felt the wrath of then-San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez toward him when they failed to defend their championship.
The talented point guard struggled with the Green Archers in their first two seasons. They were never able to meet their ultimate goal or their community’s high expectations.
The Green Archer point guard was able to establish himself more this year, as he was given far better opportunities than he had during his first championship spell in San Beda.
Nelle has been an integral part of La Salle’s success not only in the postseason but throughout the season.
“I’ve been through so much ups and downs. I didn’t think it would end like this to be honest. We envisioned this but there will be doubts of course after the first round,” he said.
“This man right here (Robinson), [and] these two guys (Kevin Quiambao and Mike Phillips), they always pick me up. I’m very emotional, but they would always keep me level-headed. Credit to my teammates,” he shared.
Nelle earned the Mythical Team in Season 86 after averaging 11.31 points, 6.85 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals in the elimination phase, assisting the Green Archers in reaching their ultimate objective.
He has ended his collegiate career while earning the accolades he deserved for his dedication to his sport. Nelle now has one championship in his impressive collegiate career.
Nowhere to go but “UP” for Cansino
CJ Cansino, a blue-chip star for the UP Fighting Maroons, said goodbye to his collegiate basketball career in a painful way with successive second-place finishes.
His highly anticipated collegiate career as a former UAAP Juniors MVP was plagued by multiple ACL injuries and a contentious switch of school allegiance.
Like the La Salle guard, Cansino has a history of transferring universities. He began his UAAP career with the UST Growling Tigers, with whom he spent two years.
Despite having many ups and downs throughout his career, Cansino is grateful for the opportunities he’s had with the aforementioned universities and wishes to highlight the UAAP championship he won with UP.
“Well, siyempre, kapag nag-champion ka kasi madadala mo na iyon for every day life eh. Sobrang thankful ako na nakakuha ako ng championship kahit isa lang sa UAAP career ko,” he said.
Cansino, who is only a year removed from his latest ACL tear, put up monster numbers this season, averaging 12.46 points, 0.77 assists, and 3.15 rebounds. Regardless of how it ended, his Season 86 was a personal victory.
His future outside of the Diliman campus remains bright with his stellar resume, but he confesses that he has yet to explore his alternatives.
“Well, naghihintay pa kami kung anong opportunity yung dumating. Hopefully, kung ano mang dumating siyempre… As of now hindi pa namin pinag-uusapan ng agent kung meron man o wala, so wala pa akong idea,” explained the 24-year-old player.
Nelle and Cansino may have faced different fates in their respective UAAP campaigns, but one thing is certain: these prized athletes will surely create waves once they begin their professional careers.