MANILA, Philippines – For 12 long years, the UAAP did not record a single triple-double.
Then UP’s Juan Gomez de Liaño came along and dropped 15 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in a 94-81 win against the UE Red Warriors, breaking a 12-year drought since – fittingly enough – UP’s Marvin Cruz got one in 2006. (READ: After halftime scolding, Juan Gomez de Liaño rolls to triple-double)
It was also the first trip-dub in a win since “El Tinyente” LA Tenorio got one for Ateneo, way back in 2005.
Gomez de Liaño, though, relished that distinction for just a week as UST’s super rookie CJ Cansino decided to celebrate his 19th birthday by dropping his own triple-double – a 20-point, 14-rebound, 10-assist line last October 28 in a 79-68 win, also against the Red Warriors. (READ: Rookie record: Triple-double party for birthday boy Cansino)
The feat made Cansino the first rookie to record a triple-double since official stats were kept in 2003, and Gomez de Liaño is the least bit surprised about it.
“My teammates were saying, ‘Juan [you’re done], There’s another guy who got a triple-double, [and he’s a] rookie.’ I said, ‘Who? Who?’ ‘CJ Cansino.’ I wasn’t even shocked. I think it was a normal game for him.”
“Yeah, props. He’s a good kid. Ay, I think he’s my age,” he said, sharing a laugh with reporters. “He’s still young, he’s a freshie so for a freshman to do that, he’s a talented young kid. We have the same trainer – Better Basketball PH with coach Patrick Tantioco. We get along. We do workouts together. He’s a good guy.”
The triple-double distinction is just the latest in an interesting list of similarities between the two young studs.
Apart from having the same trainer, both teen hotshots are former UAAP juniors Most Valuable Players.
Gomez de Liaño bagged the plum as the brightest star of the UPIS Junior Maroons in Season 79, before Cansino followed his footseps and nabbed the highest individual high school award with the UST Tiger Cubs the following year.
“CJ is full of potential and we just want that to materialize. I hope he doesn’t get contented and continues improving,” said UST coach Aldin Ayo.
This season, Cansino has also emerged as frontrunner for the seniors’ Rookie of the Year title, which was won by Gomez de Liaño last year.
But right now, both players are purely focused on leading their teams' Final Four hunt.
Cansino’s UST is in the thick of the playoff hunt, currently running fourth with a 5-5 slate.
Gomez de Liaño and the Maroons are also precariously sharing 5th place with a 5-6 record in a crowded standings war.
“We cannot afford to lose,” said Gomez de Liaño. “If we lose one, our chances of making the Final Four is out. The last 3 games are really important for us.”
But no matter where their teams end up by the end of the eliminations, it's clear that Cansino and Gomez de Liaño will be in many more conversations.
Both still in their teens, it's highly likely that the UAAP has yet to see the best they have to offer. – Rappler.com