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Ayo focused on La Salle's comeback try

The La Salle Green Archers pose after their runner-up finish in the 80th UAAP men's basketball tournament. | Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — “We want to bounce back next year, “ Aldin Ayo declared shortly after falling short in defending their UAAP men’s basketball crown last Sunday.

But his return to the coaching post, along with the future of his prized cager, two-time league Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala remains in limbo.

Ayo shared that his four-month pact with De La Salle University, which he signed on September, is due to expire this month. His name is currently in the mix for the head coaching job at University of Santo Tomas, which had a dismal 1-13 record in UAAP Season 80.

“Ako iniisip ko lang ngayon yung laro muna at ‘yung team na ito. Ayoko ng mga ganiyan,” Ayo said of the transfer rumors. “I don't want to comment on that.”

“Actually, I have lots of friends in UST. ‘Yung pari na nagdala sa akin dito sa Manila, he's in UST. ‘Yung adviser ko sa thesis ko, he's a Dominican, he's also in UST,” he added. “There are lots of priests na nandun sa UST na friends ko pati alumni. Pero regarding sa issue na ‘yan, I don't want to comment on that.”

Mbala, for his part, could miss Season 81 action after the UAAP revived an old “seven-years-out-of-high-school” provision. Bu the La Salle camp maintained that the Cameroonian is eligible for another year in the league.

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“He still has one year,” Ayo said of his the Green Archers’ centerpiece during that Sunday chat. “Based on the ground rules of UAAP, Ben still has one more year in the UAAP.”

“We were not able to handle very well our championship last season. I don’t want to expound on that,” he added. “Medyo maselan eh. We were not able to handle really well our championship. Worried ako how we started our season this [year]. Syempre, being the head coach, I’m accountable for everything that happened.”

“Of course, we want to bounce back next year. Pero we have to ayusin ‘yung approach namin sa preparation namin,” he noted.

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