UST rookie Mark Nonoy proves he belongs with big boys

MANILA, Philippines – UST Growling Tigers rookie Mark Nonoy may currently be one of the youngest players in PBA D-League history, but there's a reason why he's already banging with the big boys.

Following a one-and-done UAAP junior stint for the Tiger Cubs that saw him become a Mythical Team member, Nonoy has been immediately thrown into the fire in the D-League as an incoming freshman for UST's senior squad.

The proud product of Western Visayas who turned heads in the 2018 Palarong Pambansa did not disappoint. 

Even on the face of reigning two-time UAAP champion Cignal-Ateneo Blue Eagles, the 18-year-old put up 23 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in a statement 122-98 romp for the Growling Tigers on March 7. 

Valuable lessons from UST coach Aldin Ayo and veteran guards Renzon Subido and Marvin Lee have helped Nonoy's take his game to the next level. 

"Siyempre inaalalayan din nila ako sa mga play at kung anong gagawin kasi sila 'yung mas lamang sa akin at more experienced," Nonoy said of his veteran teammates.

"Tinutulungan nila ako kung anong gagawin na pwedeng ma-apply as a team."

(Of course, they're guiding me with the plays and what we need to do because they are ahead of me and more experienced. They're helping me with what I can do that can be applied as a team.)

But Nonoy admits being a bit nervous and shot-hungry, especially against the Blue Eagles. 

"Siyempre noong una may kaba pa kasi alam natin champion team 'yan eh," he said. "Gusto lang namin mag-compete. 'Yun nga medyo gigil pa kami kasi ito 'yung mga team na makakalaban namin sa Season 82."

(Of course at first, I was still nervous because we know they are a champion team. We just want to compete. We got a bit too aggressive because these are the kinds of teams we’ll be facing in Season 82.)

Still, after shooting an eye-popping 19-of-44 (43%) clip from downtown as a team, don't expect the rising Tigers to pump the brakes on offense anytime soon. And count on Nonoy to be at the center of it all.

"Mas marami pa [sa susunod] (There'll be more shots next time)," he said with a smile.

"The more attempts, the more chances of winning." –