Why it’s hard and rewarding to play for Aldin Ayo

If there’s one player who knows both the pros and cons of playing for a team coached by Aldin Ayo, it’s Renzo Subido.

The former UST Growling Tiger, who is about to enter his rookie season in the PBA, spent the last two years of his college career with the controversial head coach, who has been banned indefinitely by the UAAP following his role in UST’s “bubble” training amid the pandemic. (READ: TIMELINE: Chaos follows as UST bubble bursts)

Ayo, who has also resigned from his post with the Growling Tigers, leaned on Subido as one of his team leaders from 2018-2019. Having the strongest veteran presence in the roster, it was often up to Subido to navigate his teammates through Ayo’s rigorous, demanding, and successful culture. 

“He’s like a brother, he’s a coach, he’s a mentor, but honestly, it’s really hard to play for coach Aldin,” Subido said in an episode of the At the Buzzer podcast. 

“He’s the type of person that if his commitment is at 110%, it’s a must that all his players – the commitment – should be the same,” added Subido. 

“He’s willing to sacrifice everything for basketball, so kumbaga dapat, yung players niya, gano'n din (it’s like his players should have the same level of sacrifice and commitment).

“That’s how committed he is when we talk about basketball, especially when he’s running a team, so it’s really hard to play for him.” (READ: Master of Mayhem: How Aldin Ayo's coaching career unraveled)

Tough, tiring

Subido gave a specific example: during their offseason training, the Growling Tigers’ daily schedule would include practice and workouts from 6 am to 7:30 am, followed by a review of the team’s complete offensive and defensive schemes until 9 am. 

After resting and recovering in their dorms, the team would practice again from 2 pm to 5 pm, receive a two-hour break, and then have another film review session at 7:30 pm. 

According to Subido, Ayo would prepare for all summer games and competitions like the UAAP tournament itself.

Sometimes sobrang hirap gumawa ng plans kasi yung breaks niya, hindi fixed, kumbaga, it’s more of ‘to be announced' lagi,” the former UST point guard recalled. 

(Sometimes it’s hard to make plans because there are no fixed breaks, it’s more of ‘to be announced’ usually.) 

Subido added that these breaks were often scheduled on weekdays, making it hard for the players to arrange plans with friends and family on Saturdays and Sundays.

May times din naman – on my part, I won’t deny this – na, ‘Grabe naman, grabe yung training ni coach Aldin, wala na tayong buhay. Nakakapagod, ang hirap naman,’” Subido said.

Pero after that, once nalabas na namin sa system namin ‘yun or nasabi na namin, once na share na namin with other people, back to reality, focus na ulit.”

(There are times – on my part I won’t deny this – I would say, ‘Coach Aldin’s training is too much, like we don’t have a life. It’s tiring, it’s hard.' But after we let that out of our system, after we said it and shared it to others, it’s back to reality and we’re focused again.) 

On the flip side, Subido countered that the success of teams coached by Ayo somewhat validates his grueling approach to preparation. 

Ayo led the Letran Knights to an NCAA title in his first stint as a college coach back in 2015, led La Salle to a title one year later in his first UAAP season, and led UST back to the finals in 2019, his second year coaching the Growling Tigers.

Subido also admits that if it were not for Ayo, he may not have been drafted in the PBA.

“For me, coach Aldin is really the coach that made me realize everything – what I have to do to get to the next level,” said Subido, who now plays for the NorthPort Batang Pier.

“How to approach life and how to make better decisions in life – not just inside the basketball court, but how to make better decisions outside of basketball.”

Subido also noted how Ayo was usually open to honest conversation and would take his players’ sentiments into account.

“Knowing coach Aldin and the coaches, they’re this type of people who will listen to you.”

TEAM LEADER. Renzo Subido played for two seasons under Aldin Ayo.

When Subido first heard from his former teammates that they would have a training camp in Sorsogon, he wasn’t surprised.

“Knowing coach Aldin, he’s the type of person who’s not going to slack off.”

Subido, however, was also skeptical.

“At the back of my mind I was like, ‘Puwede ba sila mag training there?’ (Can they really train there?)”

According to the former Zobel high school standout, it was actually CJ Cansino who was most excited to get back to training and regain the pre-injury form he had during his superb rookie campaign. 

Ultimately, Cansino became the first domino to fall in the mass exodus of the Growling Tigers’ title-contending core. 

“I was really surprised with the turn of events, what happened, and all the things that came out these past few weeks,” Subido said.

When asked which side he’s on, Subido admitted it is hard for him to make that choice, given his closeness to both sides: the players and the coaches.

The 5-foot-9 shooter did say that if he was still with the team, what he would have certainly done is to not drag the university’s name through the controversy.

“If I were CJ and the guys – this is just my opinion, this is me – I [would want] to go home, because I miss my family,” said Subido.

“The moment I was able to go home or come back with my family, okay na sana yun, kung baga quiet na, nakabalik na ako (that would be okay, I’d just be quiet since I already got home).”

Added the clutch shot maker: “Basketball here in the Philippines is so small that it’s hard to burn bridges… The more you talk, the more you speak out, sobrang dami, dadagdag lang, lalaki lang yung gulo (it gets too much, it piles up, the controversy just gets bigger).” – Rappler.com

Catch Renzo Subido talk more on the UST bubble, the challenges of starting a PBA career during a pandemic, and his unforgettable shot in the Final Four in this podcast episode. Subscribe to At the Buzzer on iTunes and Spotify.