MANILA, Philippines—The pandemic disrupted all sorts of plans for people from all over the world, and La Salle Mark Nonoy was no exception.
Being one of the hottest talents in the Philippine collegiate basketball scene, Nonoy was no stranger to the rising expectations and he was determined to live up to them.
But like for everyone else, reality changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shook the life as we know it for a few years.
For Nonoy, this ended his promising stint with University of Santo Tomas and brought him to a new side where he would live out the remainder of his collegiate eligibility–dealing with new challenges, teammates, and style of play with the La Salle Green Archers.
“That pandemic wasn’t something that we could control. Whatever happened then, I learned from it. Everything happens for a reason and I got here in La Salle due to that pandemic, as well,” said Nonoy in Filipino after the Green Archers’ 80-70 win against Far Eastern University at Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
Four years ago, Nonoy wowed the country with his jaw-dropping speed and immense shooting for the Tigers, which got him the 2019 UAAP Rookie of the Year award.
Alongside the trio of CJ Cansino, Rhenz Abando and Brent Paraiso, they willed the Growling Tigers to the Season 82 Finals only to be fed to the season-sweeping Ateneo Blue Eagles.
The future was, by all means, bright for the shifty guard. Unfortunately a pandemic—and a UST controversy involving an unsanctioned training bubble—put his quick uprising to a screeching halt.
Right now, Nonoy is arguably the fourth-best player in a championship-caliber team and is en route to his third Final Four appearance in his collegiate career.
Amid the mental beatdowns that the shifty playmaker has taken since 2019, Nonoy could’ve just sat in the corner thinking about his wasted years but he survived all that to reach a new peak–and he has his longtime coach Vincent “Bing” Conlu from Iloilo to thank for it.
“Sometimes, I thought of being down but the biggest factor that I would never forget is my coach in Iloilo. He’s the one that brought me here and even if we’re far away, my problems, even the personal ones, I admit it to him. I ask him for advice so he’s like my secret weapon,” Nonoy fondly said of his coach.
“He’s the one that’s telling me to continue things since I’m here now. He’s telling me to adjust to what my coaches here need and what my teammates want. He told me to just give the best that I can for the team.”
best PG n d NATION👏👏
Nonoy is left with a small window for a renaissance in the UAAP with Season 86 being his last. After inconsistent outings last season, the 5-foot-8 guard is currently playing a huge role for the Green Archers in their crusade to the championship.
Just two games ago, Nonoy scored 25 big points to fuel La Salle to an 86-76 win against University of the East—just one point shy away from his 26-point career-high which he made in his rookie year.
It seems like Conlu’s words have stuck to Nonoy until now, seeing that he’s an important piece to the puzzle for La Salle, which is atop the ladder alongside National University at 10-3.
The Green Archers close out the elimination round on Saturday at Araneta Coliseum against rival Ateneo, and Nonoy has a chance to continue heeding his secret weapon’s words once more.