‘Frenemies’ is the best way to describe the relationship between Jamike Jarin and Aldin Ayo.
Both on and off the court, they have thrown small jabs and quips at one another. All in the good name of competition, of course.
But now, only Jarin — tapped as an assistant coach for University of the East — remains in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines. Ayo, one of the brightest minds in the game, was slapped with an indefinite ban — simply a more decent way of saying lifetime ban.
This sanction, the gravest the UAAP can give, came after countless hours of meetings by the league’s board, and a deep investigation by University of Santo Tomas of the two-month-long training camp Ayo held in Capuy, Sorsogon.
And Jarin empathizes with Ayo.
“We were so used to our daily lives going to practice, caring for these boys, and mentoring them, then all of a sudden nawala ‘yung lahat. It’s just unfortunate na may incident na ganito na nangyari. You don’t want to see anybody banned from our passion. This is what we are good at e. It’s just unfortunate na nangyari ito,” opined Jarin about the Bicol bubble.
“Ako naman, indefinite e… Coach Aldin has contributed a lot already for college basketball e, and he has done a lot for his players. I always feel na lahat kaming coaches would like to see the betterment of our players. ‘Yung mga plano mo is always good for them, but because of the pandemic, na-cloud ‘yung decision-making sometimes,” he continued.
“For me personally, hindi mo na alam ‘yung gagawin mo e since we are not used to this. I don’t want to see him na ganiyan, as a friend you competed against.”
Jarin and Ayo are different in many ways.
Jarin is a proud and loud fellow who preaches offense. On the other end, Ayo is a soft-spoken individual who advocates tough-nosed defense.
As they say, styles make fights, and the two painted masterpieces on the court.
In the NCAA, Jarin’s San Beda and Ayo’s Letran faced each other six times, ending up with three wins apiece. But it was the Knights who ended up with the crown.
Ayo then bolted to the UAAP in 2016, while Jarin followed suit a year later after winning the NCAA crown.
They would no longer figure in an epic playoff game, with Ayo winning their heads-up battle in the UAAP, 4-2.
Though they are each other’s yin and yang, both Jarin and Ayo shared one thing — their love for their game. And that’s how they were able to develop mutual respect and, eventually, a friendship.
Rarely at a loss for words, Jarin could only offer this to Ayo:
“Me and him, our careers are intertwined, sabi niyo nga. ‘Yun ‘yung akin lang. I’m just a phone call away lang not to just talk about basketball, just somebody to talk with. I’m sure he is really down right now and also malungkot din ‘yung institution ng UST. Kasi nga, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”
It will take a long-time before Ayo can compete in the biggest collegiate league in the country — or in any of the country’s top-notch leagues.
This early, Jarin can’t wait for that time to come.
“I’m sure that he is going to climb back that ladder one day, step by step,” he said.
“Be thankful for the rocks that life throws at you. For one day it will be your stepping stones.”