San Juan City
January 5, 2018
Ayo of the Tiger
Who is Aldin Ayo?
This was the first question I asked when Letran announced it has appointed Ayo as coach of its men’s basketball team four years ago
Of course, everyone knows Ayo now.
Winning two championships—one with the Knights and the other with the La Salle Archers—and three straight finals appearances in three seasons will do that to you. I mean, Aldin Ayo, is now a household name in collegiate basketball.
And most recently, the guy hugged the limelight again after transferring to another school, this time to University of Santo Tomas, which would be Ayo’s third team in the last four years. While he had a brief stint with La Salle (two years) and a briefer one with Letran (one season), there were reports from the Varsitarian–UST’s college publication—and the Tiebreaker Times’ Matthew Li that Ayo will stay longer and reportedly signed a six-year pact with the pontifical school.
Before we wish Ayo luck, let’s see how he would fare with his newfound school.
Ayo will be coming from a La Salle team that has a supernova import Ben Mbala and a battery of lights-out shooters and scorers that even the bench players could get bigger minutes in other schools. Not to mention limitless support, financial or otherwise.
And it is inexcusable if Ayo didn’t go home without a crown. Heck, La Salle could win every single game if the stars aligned for Ayo and the Archers. But yes, Ayo did a tremendous job keeping the team together, big ego and all. A championship, a runner-up finish and a 46-12 (win-loss) record aren’t bad.
Now comes the million-dollar (that hated million word again) question—Can he weave the same magic with a UST team that is coming off back-to-back last place finishes when it won just four games in 28 games?
Our answer is a resounding YES.
I mean, Ayo turned Letran from a rag-tag, import-less and vertically-challenged team to perhaps one of the most memorable champion teams in league history. I mean, I was there and saw it with my bare eyes from the first game to the last–Game Three of the finals–when the Knights slew giant of all giants–the Ola Adeogun-led San Beda Lions.
I am a living proof that Ayo is for real. The guy made a believer out of a disbeliever like yours truly. I’m not saying it would be easy. I’m telling you it won’t. In fact, I see a rough sailing for Ayo and the Tigers. With a little patience and a dose of faith, I know he will get there. Because this I tell you, UST is a perfect fit for Ayo. If he could put Mayhem in Letran, he would with UST. Just keep the faith.
To close, let me share this to you:
“It’s the AYO the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the AYO the tiger..”
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photo is from Abante)