MARK Nonoy and Deo Cuajao have formally committed to play for La Salle in the next UAAP men’s basketball wars, their management team announced yesterday.
Lawyer Mans Carpio, the husband of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who is now one of the Green Archers’ boosters, welcomed Nonoy and Cuajao to the team.
Nonoy and Cuajao bolted out of University of Santo Tomas in the aftermath of the Sorsogon “bubble” training mess that put the España-based school’s men’s basketball program in shambles.
Together with their agent Jackson Chua of Team Phenom Sports, Nonoy and Cuajao flew to Davao City Monday to meet the new La Salle backer.
Carpio played a huge part in recruiting Nonoy and Cuajao, and as well as Nazareth School of National University’s 6-foot-8 standout Kevin Quiambao, to the Archers, who are seeking to make a return trip to the Final Four after missing the bus in the last two years.
With Nonoy, a La Carlota City native, and Cuajao, who hails from Davao, coming from provinces, Carpio simply wanted to help in bringing homegrown basketball upstarts in reviving La Salle under returning coach Derrick Pumaren.
“Through the years, La Salle has become one of the biggest and proudest collegiate basketball programs in the country. My goal is to open the doors of the school to more homegrown players who cannot afford to study there through sports,” said Carpio.
“That is the true meaning of the Animo spirit.”
Nonoy and Cuajao spent their lone season with the Tigers last year, helping the school achieve a runner-up finish.
A cat-quick 5-foot-8 guard, Nonoy averaged 11.11 points, 3.83 rebounds and 2.78 assists per game en route in winning the Rookie of the Year award.
Nonoy will form the Archers’ combo with Evan Nelle in the future. Like Nonoy, the 5-foot-10 Nelle, who played two years with San Beda in the NCAA, will have to sit out one year before being eligible for the next UAAP tournament.
High school standouts CJ Austria of University of the East, Emman Galman of University of Perpetual Help System Dalta were also recruited to shore up La Salle’s backcourt.
Played sparingly in his first UAAP season with UST, the 6-foot-1 Cuajao, who will also serve his one-year residency, proved his worth during the off-season tournaments before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joshua David of La Salle Green Hills, Jonnel Policarpio of Mapua, and Fil-Am brothers Michael and Benjamin Philips have earlier made their committment to play for the Taft-based squad.