MANILA, Philippines – Despite being one of the biggest coaching names in the collegiate circuit, Aldin Ayo admitted he felt rookie jitters as he was preparing for his PBA debut.
The coach, who called the shots for the Converge FiberXers, felt more nervous when his team’s offense was not humming the way he wanted.
“Of course, everyone’s first time gives them the butterflies, but when the team wasn’t able to shoot and I saw how my opponents were – I mean, how many points did Prosper score – he had 26 in the first half, right?” said Ayo in Filipino after Converge overcame the 43-point, 25-rebound outburst of Terrafirma import Lester Prosper in their 124-110 triumph.
“Even that buzzer beater of JP (Calvo). They’re good, we just have to always bring out our best games,” he added.
Hired by the franchise last August, Ayo said his PBA stint had been slowly sinking in for weeks now, which was kicked off by their practice sessions.
Ayo’s fingerprints were evident even in his first game with the team, with Converge exhibiting a pace and space scheme, launching 43 triples, a much bigger figure than the FiberXers’ 30.8 attempts in the previous conference.
It is part of his mandate to run, a signature characteristic of the previous teams that he handled such as Letran, La Salle, and UST.
However, the coach stressed that the team needed to sustain its defense in its next outings after giving up 62 points in the first half and 48 in the second.
“For us, it’s just stepping on the pedal and full speed ahead. We just have to keep on running, ’cause that’s our game,” said Ayo, who won championships with La Salle in the UAAP and Letran in the NCAA.
“But of course, we have to make those shots. We had a lot of open shots, we just weren’t able to convert those,” he added.
Ayo will have his hands full again when he faces crowd darling Barangay Ginebra on Sunday, September 25, coached by the most successful tactician in league history, Tim Cone.
“Well it will be a tough game for us. And if you’re going to coach against the winningest coach, a legendary at that, it will be a tough one,” said Ayo.
“And aside from having the best coach, I think they have a stacked team also in terms of their lineup. And one advantage that they also have is that they have a resident import,” Ayo added.
“They don’t need adjustments. Justin (Brownlee) is a great fit. So it will be a tough game for us.” – Rappler.com