MANILA, Philippines – Two years since he helped Letran win its first NCAA title in ten seasons, Coach Aldin Ayo remains as invested as ever in the Knights’ campaign in the oldest collegiate league in the Philippines.
Ayo broke into the Metro Manila coaching scene by leading the Knights in its remarkable NCAA Season 91 campaign, wherein they won the championship by taking down archrivals San Beda in a classic three-game series.
He would leave his alma mater soon after, jumping ship to the UAAP where he went on to guide De La Salle University to the UAAP Season 79 men’s title in dominant fashion. Yet Letran never strayed far from Ayo’s mind, even attending the Knights’ games in Season 92.
After La Salle’s 93-77 victory over Letran in the 2017 FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup last Friday, Ayo revealed that he plans to continue keeping track of the Knights as they plunge into NCAA action in early July.
“Palagi kaming manonood ni McJour (Luib),” Ayo said, referring to his point guard in Letran’s title run in 2015, whom he recruited to join the De La Salle coaching staff last year.
“Parati na kaming constant communication sa mga players,” he also said. “Ako kasi, ‘yung mga players ko na ‘yun, since hindi na ako coach, magto-tropa na kami.”
[McJour and I plan to watch their games. We’re in constant communication with the players. Now that I’m not their coach, they have become my friends.]
The bond between the members of Letran’s 2015 title team is special, according to Ayo, and even now, they still go out from time to time, even though most of them have gone their separate ways, basketball-wise. Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz are now in the PBA, Jom Sollano and Felix Apreku are hoping to make it there, and Ayo of course is in La Salle.
Rey Nambatac, JP Calvo, Bong Quinto, and Jerrick Balanza are the only remaining members of the 2015 team in Letran.
In Season 92 – Luib’s final season – Letran failed to make it to the Final 4, finishing in sixth place with a 9-9 win-loss record. However, Ayo believes they can get back on track this year.
“Hopefully, Final 4,” he said.
Ayo constantly tells the Knights to “give their best,” he says, especially whenever they run into problems.
“Pag may problema, sa akin din tumatakbo ‘yung mga ‘yan,” he revealed. “I just tell them na para sa alma mater natin. Make sure na gawin niyo ‘yung mga dapat niyong gawin, kasi at the end of the day, Letranista pa rin kami.”
“Kahit nandito kami ngayon sa green, pero siyempre, Letran pa rin,” he stressed.
[Whenever they have problems, they come to me for advice. I always tell them to do it all for our alma mater. Even though I’m on the green side now, at the end of the day we still represent Letran.]
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