Arriba, Animo Ayo

Aldin Ayo I File Photo

Who is Aldin Ayo?

This was the same question I asked the first time I wrote about the man last June.

You probably know Ayo now.

If not, he just led the Letran Knights to a first NCAA championship in almost a decade by slaying the once mighty San Beda Lions.

He also silenced his critics and the people who underestimated him, including yours truly. I welcome the championship rebuke because his is an inspiring story after he steered a Letran team that wasn't even given a chance to make the Final Four, much more win a title, to a championship to remember.

And Ayo did it without the benefit of foreign players as his Knights were one of the few NCAA teams that played all-Filipino the whole season.

So yes, that is Aldin Ayo.

But on Wednesday afternoon, Snow Badua of called yours truly if I had Ayo's cellphone number. I told him I didn't have it. Never had. And I don't know why. Usually, us sportswriters, when we meet a coach, or anyone who could be a potential "source" for a story, we get his or her number. But I didn't. A big mistake on my part.

Don't mistake it as hatred. Nope. Ayo and I had our differences but we're civil. Not enemies. In fact, my last interview with Ayo was in Game Three of the NCAA Finals, just moments after the Knights brought down the Lions to claim the crown. I remember him ribbing me that Sportsmaryosep, my personal blog site, is one of his inspirations to excel this season. Why? Because, I was one of the doubters.

And he proved me wrong.

Apparently, Snow wrote about Ayo being likely to succeed resigned Juno Sauler as new La Salle coach.

Upon reading it at first, I thought it's witchhunting. How can someone who just steered a school to a championship leave for another school and league in the same year? Unbelievable, right?

For the record, Ayo has a four-year contract with Letran. Not with Manny Pacquiao, but with Letran. So after this year, Ayo will have three years left to burn and perhaps win one or two more championships. So knowing that, I thought it's not happening.

But after talking to very reliable sources, I've learned three things:

1. Ayo has allegedly met with chief La Salle backer Danding Cojuangco and the whole Archers team at the New World Hotel in Makati (Wednesday night),

2. Ayo has allegedly told his players that this is his last year with the Knights without saying why, and

3. Letran officials weren't aware that Ayo is allegedly leaving.

So piecing it together, it is likely that Ayo is the new La Salle coach.

And I expect La Salle to make the official announcement anytime now.

But I'm bothered.

I mean, how can Ayo do it (if the news is true)? I'm sure some people in Letran and even the NCAA will not like it. When you make a commitment or even pledge, wether it's put in a contract or not, you have to honor it. I mean, Ayo gave his word to Letran.

I also ask myself, what if I'm in Ayo's shoes? I will probably accept it. I mean it's La Salle. A big school, big-moneyed team in a mammoth league. Who is Ayo to refuse such tempting offer? I'll probably say yes too. Damn the consequences.

So really, it's hard to hate Ayo. Letran gave him a chance. He returned the favor by giving the school a precious championship.

So there.

Now I ask again, who is Aldin Ayo?

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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