For the first time in three years, Aldin Ayo was on the stands to watch the Letran Knights.
But he was not alone.
Kevin Racal organized a mini-reunion with the championship core of the NCAA Season 91 championship squad. Those who arrived were Ayo, Racal, Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, McJour Luib, Bong Quinto, and JP Calvo.
And Ayo could not help but see a lot of difference from his squad compared to Bonnie Tan’s team.
“Iba na ang mga players. Except for Jerrick [Balanza], Jeo [Ambohot], kina [Ato] Ular, King, [Caralipio], iba na eh.
“Iba na rin yung sistema,” shared Ayo, whose Mayhem system steered the Knights past the San Beda Red Lions in an epic three-game series.
Though the faces have changed, the now-UST Growling Tigers head coach sees one thing in common among all batches of the Knights.
“Pero if there’s one thing that is constant, yung community. Nandoon yung suporta, nandoon yung Arriba.”
In the NCAA’s first game in the Cuneta Astrodome in 10 years, the Letranites packed one half of the venue. And the crowd almost willed the Knights to a huge come-from-behind win against the Red Lions, falling short by just four, 66-70.
“Nagtaka kami kung bakit hindi nakapaglaro in the past two or three seasons eh,” Ayo remarked about the athletic 6-foot-4 forward. “That guy deserves to play. Kinailangan niyang iprove ang laro niya sa ibang liga para mapunta sa NCAA, pero right from the start, we know that he deserves to play.
“Good thing for him na naglalaro na siya ngayon and good thing he’s playing well.”
“Of course, masarap sa pakiramdam na babalik ka sa ganitong laro. Before ka umalis, you were successful. The players, sila K-Racs, sila Mark, sila Rey, sila Bong, JP, Mcjour, they take pride on that, that we’re able to accomplish that,” he reflected.
“Siyempre, we are hoping na maulit, that’s why we’re here to support them.”
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