MANILA, Philippines -- Reigning UAAP Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy has bid goodbye to University of Santo Tomas (UST), making him the latest player to leave the Growling Tigers in the wake of the "Sorsogon bubble" controversy.
In an Instagram post, Nonoy expressed his gratitude to UST as well as to former head coach Aldin Ayo for giving him an opportunity to showcase his talents in the UAAP.
As much as he loves UST, however, Nonoy said he has to leave for the sake of his own basketball career.
"Napakabigat man para sa loob ko, kinakailangan ko ng katiyakan sa aking career para makapag-focus ulit sa basketball," said Nonoy, who starred for the Tiger Cubs before moving up to UST's seniors program.
"Dahil ilang weeks na akong binabagabag ng kung ano ang kahihinatnan ng atin team," he admitted.
"Ano man natutunan ko sa UST dadalhin ko 'yan habambuhay saan man ako mapunta. Akin po munang kokonsultahin ang aking pamilya para sa mga susunod na hakbang na aming gagawin," he added.
Nonoy was the top rookie in Season 82 after averaging 10 points, 3.86 rebounds, and 2.29 assists, and playing a major role in UST's run to the Finals.
Also leaving UST is guard Deo Cuajao, who like Nonoy played just one season for the Growling Tigers.
"Hanggang sa huli, umaasa akong magkakaron ng linaw at maayos na patutunguhan ang team despite sa lahat ng pinagdaraanan namin. Ngunit hanggang ngayon walang tiyak na direksyon," said Cuajao.
"Mabigat man ang loob ko, kinakailangan ko na talaga magdesisyon at maghanap ng katiyakan para sa career ko dahil dito ko binubuo ang pangarap ko para sa pamilya ko," he added.
While both players did not disclose where they are set to transfer, both Nonoy and Cuajao have been linked to a move to De La Salle University for the past few days.
On Sunday, both Nonoy and Cuajao said they were still undecided on whether to stay at UST or leave, as they were waiting on the university's action on Ayo's appeal to the UAAP.
Ayo resigned from his post as head coach last September 5, and the UAAP has since given him an indefinite ban from the league. Ayo has appealed this sanction.
Several players have already left UST in the wake of the "Sorsogon bubble" controversy, where it was revealed that the team trained in Ayo's hometown since June, in a possible violation of the government's quarantine protocols.
Former team captain CJ Cansino has transferred to University of the Philippines, while Rhenz Abando, Ira Bataller, and Brent Paraiso have jumped ship to the NCAA to play for Colegio de San Juan de Letran -- interestingly, Ayo's former team.