During his stay with the De La Salle University two years ago, Aldin Ayo and Tab Baldwin could not see eye to eye.
But that rivalry was built from mutual respect and admiration.
“Nothing but respect for Coach Tab. He made the UAAP better. He raised the level of competition, he made the players better. Not only his players, but the other players. He made the coaches better,” expressed Ayo.
“On my part, I love the challenge.”
After losing in blowouts in their two meetings last season, the UST Growling Tigers gave the Ateneo Blue Eagles their biggest challenge so far early in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The only difference in the endgame though was the inexperience of the Growling Tigers as they were held down to just three points in the last two minutes of the tightly-contested tilt.
“It all boiled down to decision-making down the stretch. Yung maturity ng mga bata, medyo nagkulang dun sa stretch na… Especially yung walang dead ball.
“We were not able to execute our game plan on those kinds of situations. We prepared for that, pero lumabas yung pagiging bata eh. Nakita yung opportunity even though hindi kasama sa game plan namin, [so] they went for that opportunity,” lamented Ayo after their heartbreaking 70-71 loss.
Moving forward, Ayo hopes that his young Tigers learn from this experience. But more than anything, he does not want his players to see this as just part of a bigger process.
For him, the process happened during the off-season. Now is the time for execution.
“‘Di ako naniniwala sa ‘trust the process’ because every time you say that, you rely on trusting the process. They’ve got to learn right away.
“Of course, it will be a process, but don’t lean on the process that there’s a result [sic]. We hope we’re going to learn from this and come next game, we make better decisions,” he continued.
And if there’s one team UST has to look at as motivation, it has to be Ateneo — the team who toppled his supposed-dynasty in La Salle.
“That’s the good thing about competition, especially sportsmanship. You handle it well, you take it well, then everybody benefits from it.”
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