Nonoy declares loyalty to Ayo as reason for leaving Tigers

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Mark Nonoy, the UAAP Season 82 Rookie of the Year, bid the University of Santo Tomas (UST) goodbye to complete the disintegration of a once-promising collegiate cage power as he professed his loyalty to resigned coach Aldin Ayo and not to the school that took him in.

“I will forever be indebted to him,” Nonoy wrote of Ayo in Filipino on an Instagram post, confirming that his loyalty is with his coach and not with Santo Tomas. “I won’t be where I am now if not for him.”

Ayo has been indefinitely suspended by the league’s board of trustees from holding any position in the league because of the training “bubble” in Sorsogon which he ran. That also makes it a mystery why Nonoy would leave UST since he cannot follow Ayo to ano­ther UAAP school.

“I need to prioritize the certainty of my career so I could again focus on basketball,” Nonoy said, citing the uncertainty of UST’s athletic program of late caused by the Sorsogon bubble. The school’s participation in the next UAAP season has also not been determined yet with the board yet to act on it.

However, the crafty guard said he has yet to consult with his family to determine his next steps, though media outlets on Sunday have confirmed, citing rock-solid sources, that he and Deo Cuajao are set to join perennial contender La Salle.

Derrick Pumaren, the Green Archers’ head coach, has yet to respond to the Inquirer’s request for comment.

The pair is the latest cagers to leave the Growling Tigers’ lair following the exposé of that bubble in Barangay Capuy held in the thick of quarantine restrictions set by the national government.

That camp, which was put into light after the sudden exit of skipper CJ Cansino, has prompted multiple investigations and has since been elevated to the Department of Justice and Department of the Interior and Local Government for review.

Rhenz Abando, Brent Paraiso and Ira Bataller have already been welcomed by NCAA champion Letran.

The growing number of departures has thinned a UST side that made it to last year’s UAAP finals against powerhouse Ateneo. Soulemane Chabi Yo is the only one left from UST’s core. Dave Ando, Sherwin Concepcion and Miguel Pangilinan are the others who chose to stay.

Cuajao also made an announcement and also thanked Ayo, who was responsible for the “breaks” that came his way.

“It was coach Aldin himself who recruited Mark to play for UST High School,” the pair’s handler, Jax Chua, said in Filipino on Sunday. “Deo, meanwhile, was recruited two weeks before the season started.” INQ


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