AFTER some uncertainty on his status with the men’s basketball team of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), spitfire guard Mark Nonoy confirmed on Monday that he was leaving the school, with De La Salle University as the likely destination.

In an Instagram post, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) rookie of the year said that after giving it some thought, he had come to the hard decision to leave the Growling Tigers.  

“While this is a tough decision, I had to do it to ensure that I can move on and focus on basketball,” wrote Nonoy in Filipino.

He went on to admit that the past weeks had been tough on him as their team and the school continue to reel from the impact of the alleged illegal training bubble the Tigers had in Capuy, Sorsogon.

The training bubble allegedly had the UST men’s basketball team holed up in one facility since June in preparation for Season 83 of the UAAP and other tournaments when such was still prohibited under regulations put out in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

The bubble is currently the subject of an investigation by the Commission on Higher Education and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

UST could be given sanctions because of the incident.

Nonoy’s announcement confirmed reports the past few days that he and teammate Deo Cuajao were on their way out and set to join La Salle.

The UAAP rookie of the year, however, did not say on his post if he was indeed joining the Green Archers, saying instead, “I will consult first with my family on the next moves I will take.”

Nonoy was the latest Tiger to leave UST in the aftermath of the bubble controversy, joining former captain CJ Cansino who is now with the University of the Philippines; Rhenz Abando, Brent Paraiso and Ira Bataller (now with Colegio de San Juan de Letran); and Jun Asuncion (Mapua ).

Aldin Ayo has also resigned as UST coach.

Nonoy, who hails from Negros Occidental, averaged 11.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists on his way to winning the rookie of the year award in his lone season in the UAAP. He was a key cog in the Tigers’ run to the finals in Season 82. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo