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Sports

Ayo hopes to bring winning ways to La Salle

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – After steering Letran to a surprising title romp in the NCAA, Aldin Ayo has set a lofty goal for his new team – La Salle – over at the UAAP.

“Of course, it’s all about competition. Kung magko-compete ka, isipin mong mananalo ka. Otherwise huwag ka nang mag-compete. We want to win and ta-trabahuhin namin (If you’re going to compete, you have to eye a victory no less. We’ll work hard to achieve it),” said Ayo.

The champion mentor made his first public appearance since jumping over to Taft Avenue school Tuesday night during the UAAP-NCAA Press Corps’ Collegiate Basketball Awards.

Ayo received the NCAA Coach of the Year plum and shared the honors with his counterpart in the UAAP, Nash Racela of titlist Far Eastern U. As they posed for a photo-op, people were joking that it could be a preview of the UAAP Season 79 finals.

Ayo, who will be assisted by among others, former Tams coach Glen Capacio, tagged holder FEU as one of the top contenders.

“Malakas iyan, kasi si coach Glen galing dun, alam niya ang kultura ng FEU. Malakas pa rin ang FEU (FEU is still strong),” he said. “Andyan din ang Ateneo, UE. Pero lahat naman eh. Ganon palagi ang trato ko everytime I go to competition. Wala akong ina-underestimate (Every team is actually a threat; we don’t want to underestimate anybody).”

Ayo said he’ll bring the same “House of Chaos” brand of basketball he initiated at Letran over to La Salle.

“Dala ko pa rin ang mayhem sa La Salle,” he said. “If we can win sa takbuhan, tatakbo kami. Kung mananalo kami sa half court, gagawin namin. Kung mananalo kami sa gapangan, kung ano’ng kailangan, gagawin naming para manalo (If need be, we’ll play fast-paced, we’ll play deliberate, we’ll grind it out).”

Unlike the pre-season with Letran, Ayo is handling a La Salle team that’s been branded as a favorite next season, having high-powered veteran crew at his disposal,

“Every time I go to competition, I always want to win and I’ll make sure we’ll do everything to achieve that. But I’m one who’s not afraid to lose for I believe, we should first know how it feels to lose and learn from it,” he said.

Jeron Teng will give it one more shot along with holdovers Prince Rivero and Thomas Torres. Ayo is also looking forward to the debut of Ben Mbala and the entry of blue-chip rookies Aljun Melecio and Ricci Rivero.

“Si Jeron ang pinaka-bridge ko sa players and he’s willing to sacrifice everything just to win,” he said of the fifth-year star forward. “He will score but he’s going to do everything for the team, including defending and distributing the ball.”

Mbala, who was supposed to play in Season 78 but was declared ineligible for violating residency rules, impressed during practices.

“Sobrang sipag, yung attitude ng bata, grabe, very competitive and ayaw magpahinga (He’s very hardworking and has shown good attitude. He’s very competitive and never tires),” Ayo said.

ACIRC ALDIN AYO ALJUN MELECIO AND RICCI RIVERO AYO BEN MBALA BUT I COACH OF THE YEAR COLLEGIATE BASKETBALL AWARDS FAR EASTERN U LA SALLE LETRAN
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