Converge to maximize youth

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Newly-designated Converge coach Aldin Ayo said yesterday his first priority on the job is to establish his mayhem system and while the goal is to win, he’s not putting added pressure on the FiberXers by raising lofty playoff hopes. What Ayo guaranteed is Converge will be an exciting, running and defense-oriented team with youth and athleticism as its anchors.

Ayo, 44, said he’s grateful to Converge management for the opportunity to coach in the PBA where he started as a video coordinator for Mahindra (now Terrafirma) in 2014-15. “My appointment happened so quickly like it was when I joined La Salle,” he said. “I was taking care of my mother who encouraged me to accept the offer as she didn’t want me just hanging around the house.” Ayo’s mother Eduarda, 69, is undergoing chemotherapy and responding to treatment. Ayo, an only child, was four months old when his father, an Army sergeant, was killed in a Muslim ambush in Basilan the day before his baptism.

Ayo said it’s a challenge to whip Converge into a title contender. “We’ve had six practices so far,” he said. “I told the guys the four Philippine Cup semifinalists play at a different level and it’s up to us to reach that level. No player movements with our team. Jeron (Teng) and Abu (Tratter) were my players at La Salle so it’s like I’ve got two assistant coaches on the floor. Our import for the second conference Quincy Miller is arriving next week and I think he’ll fit our system.” Miller, 29, played for Denver, Sacramento and Detroit in three NBA seasons and was the Nuggets second round draft pick in 2012. He has played in Portugal, Uruguay, Taiwan, Germany, Israel and Serbia.

Teng said although Converge made it to the quarterfinals this conference, the team wasn’t at full strength. Teng missed the last eight games, Kurt Lojera the last six and Tratter sat out the first five. Now that the players are healthy, Teng said Converge is raring to go. “We want to maximize our youth,” said Teng. Converge has an average age of 26.8 years.

“We’ll surprise a lot of fans,” said Tratter. Lojera said he was cleared to resume practice the other day after undergoing lasik surgery and recovering from an orbital bone injury. Hill has put on added muscle to be a more physical defender. “I think two of the toughest to defend are Mikey Williams and Jericho Cruz,” he said. “I bulked up so I won’t be pushed around.”

Ayo said as a student of the game, he continues to adapt and evolve, carrying over the experience of working with Mahindra and coaching in the NCAA, UAAP and MPBL to Converge. Ayo brought in McJour Luib, JC Nuyles and Joph Cleopas to join his coaching staff.


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