MANILA, Philippines – For the third time in his career, Aldin Ayo steered a collegiate team to the league finals, this time with the up-and-coming UST Growling Tigers.
After a 5-9 finish in his first season with an España squad marred by injuries to top stars, the 42-year-old tactician regrouped well and led the young Tigers this time to a UAAP Season 82 finals date with the undefeated Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Although Ayo did his best to weave his coaching magic once again, his web got tangled on his own feet as he faced his rival Tab Baldwin in a finals rematch.
After two heated finals games, Baldwin now has two championships against Ayo’s one in their head-to-head series in the UAAP.
Despite another lost season, Ayo still hopes to continue the program he helped build from the ground up.
“Kung ano yung gagawin nila na makaka-stay ako sa UST, welcome sa akin,” he said after the sweeping finals loss.
“Ang binitawan ko na commitment [sa school] at sa mga players, hindi ako aalis sa UST unless UST ang umalis sa akin, unless UST ang umayaw sa akin.
(Whatever they do that makes me stay in UST, I welcome it. I won’t leave UST unless UST leaves me or doesn’t want me anymore. That’s my commitment to the school and the players.)
Even after two, difficult rebuilding seasons with the Growling Tigers, Ayo confessed that his feelings have grown for the program through the years.
“I can say, mahal na mahal ko ang UST. Mahal na mahal ko ang community,” he said. “Yung sinasabi ko na personal growth kaya ako lumipat ng UST, I was able to achieve that.”
“I learned a lot when I transferred to UST, hindi lang sa basketball, pati sa buhay. Kung paano kami itrato ng mga pari, ng community, ng students at alumni, first time ko maka-experience ng ganyang kainit na suporta.”
(I can say, I love UST so much. I love the community so much. The personal growth I sought when I transferred to UST, I was able to achieve that. I learned a lot when I transferred to UST, not just in basketball, but in life. The way the priests, the community the students and alumni treated us, that’s the first time I experienced that kind of support.)
Despite the loss of streaky guard Renzo Subido, UST is still shaping up to be a fearsome program under Ayo with MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy and athletic freak Rhenz Abando leading the way.
Under Ayo, mayhem in UST has just begun. – Rappler.com
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