Former University of Santo Tomas Tigers Mark Nonoy and Deo Cuajao on Saturday defended former coach Aldin Ayo from the criticism hurled by former teammates as they recalled their experience in the controversial Sorsogon training bubble.
In an interview with Noli Eala’s Power and Play program, Nonoy and Cuajao said they were treated well during their stay at Ayo’s compound in Capuy and had a choice to leave the place if they wanted to.
The duo clarified that they and other province-based players arrived at the training bubble on July 29, while Manila-based players had been staying there for almost a month.
“Siguro sa part po naming mga taga-probinsya, wala po kaming naging reklamo. Sa grupo pong nauna, di po namin alam don, pero nung kami pong mga dumating, wala naman po kaming naging problema na noon sa pagkain,” said Cuajao.
“Wala rin naman pong sinabi sa amin si Coach Aldin na pag umuwi kami, wala na kami sa team. Sabi naman po niya pwede kaming umuwi, pero babalik din po kami,” Nonoy said.
Their statements were contrary to the alleged group chat that CJ Cansino revealed in social media last month, where players complained about lack of nutrition in their “oily and meaty” food.
The post has long been taken down.
Cansino, however, was part of the group that arrived at Ayo’s compound.
Nonoy and Cuajao also disclosed that there were no scrimmages happening during their stay at the bubble.
“Kasi kaming mga nahuling dumating, nag-quarantine pa po kami. So hiwa-hiwalay din po kaming nagti-training. May iba sa gym, may iba sa court. Saka po may schedule, halimbawa kami 5 a.m., tapos may naka-schedule na 8 a.m.,” Nonoy said.
“Isang compound lang po kasi yung tinuluyan namin. May court, weights room. Di po kami lumabas don,” Cuajao.
Nonoy and Cuajao understood the sentiments of their former teammates who wanted to leave during that time, especially those who were not used to being away from their families long.
“Siyempre meron po don first time din nilang mawalay nang matagal sa family, so di po sila sanay, ” Nonoy said.
The Inter-Agency Task Force and the Department of Justice have yet to release their decision on whether or not the university would be punished for the said training bubble.
The uncertainty, including Ayo’s resignation and UAAP’s decision to ban Ayo indefinitely from the league, prompted Nonoy and Cuajao to decide quickly on their basketball future.
“Sobrang hirap pong desisyon na umalis sa team kasi di po namin alam kung ano ang mangyayari, kaso kailangan na rin po naming mag-decide dahil baka di po kami makapasok dun sa one-year residency,” Nonoy said.
Cuajao said they chose La Salle because they felt they could fit in coach Derrick Pumaren’s system.