When Aldin Ayo was tapped as the head coach of the University of Santo Tomas, the whole Growling Tigers community rejoiced.
And why not? The past two years have been torture for the Thomasians, as their once-proud men’s basketball program only won a total of four games in the last two seasons.
Besides the community, the Growling Tigers themselves opened their arms to the arrival of the two-time Collegiate Sports Press Corps Coach of the Year.
Ayo, a known players’ coach, has given each Tiger the confidence they lost during those forgettable two years. Moreover, the young Cubs of the team have also been given the green light to do what they can for UST.
“Lagi kaming binibigyan ng kumpyansa ni coach,” the players would always say after wins or losses.
The first-year Growling Tigers mentor has always said that he just wants to pay back the good the community has given to him. But after picking up their fourth win of the season – needing just eight games to do so – Ayo could not help but be thankful to the Tigers themselves.
For him, coaching has become fun again because of them.
“Madali mag coach because connected yung mga bata eh. Kung ano yung pinapagagwa ko, ginagawa ng mga bata eh,” said Ayo, who is turning 41 years old today.
“‘Pag ganun, madali mag trabaho.”
During their run to close out the first round and open the second, the Growling Tigers have produced beautiful basketball. The ball movement is crisp, the defense is tenacious, while the camaraderie can be felt.
Ayo knows that the wins are just a bonus. Even if they were losing, he knows that his boys will still go all-out for him, the team, and UST.
“Actually siguro, kahit, knowing these guys, kahit siguro hindi ganito yung nangyayari sa amin, maniniwala mga ‘to eh.
“As part of the coaching staff, grateful kami na may mga ganitong players kasi yun nga, napapadali yung trabaho namin. As I’ve told you awhile ago, talagang nagtratrabaho ‘tong mga ‘to. Ever since manan yung sinasabi ko sa inyo, palagi kong wini-wish sana lumabas yung laro ng mga bata,” he added.
“Kasi kung makita niyo nga kung ano ginagawa ng mga to, sa Q-Pav, we deserve to compete.”
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