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Joph Cleopas carries Aldin Ayo’s lessons, transforms Perpetual into contenders

Clinching their first NCAA Juniors Basketball Final Four berth since 2010, University of Perpetual Help Junior DALTA has a lot of expectations heading into the final game of the eliminations.

First-year head coach Joph Cleopas has been vital in Perpetual’s quick turnaround throughout the course of Season 99.

However, he remains blasé even after taking down defending champion Colegio de San Juan de Letran on Friday.

“Ang sinabi ko lang ‘go back to our rules, our fundamentals.’ Kasi if we cannot follow our rules, I’m sure malabo ang chance na manalo tayo. We just need to go back, walang dramatic change sa ginagawa namin,” Cleopas said.

The Cebuano tactician repeatedly mentioned their “rules,” which are the Junior Altas’ well-guarded game and practice plans.

These are the things he has learned during his time under Aldin Ayo at University of Santo Tomas, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3, and Converge.

However, Cleopas had to part ways with his mentor when his alma mater came calling, needing his help.

But he continued to carry those lessons, imparting them to the Junior Altas.

Team captain Amiel Acido reiterated Cleopas’ points, leaving little room for celebration coming off his triple-double performance against Jose Rizal University on Wednesday.

NCAA-99-UPHSD-def-CSJL-Amiel-Acido Joph Cleopas carries Aldin Ayo's lessons, transforms Perpetual into contenders Basketball NCAA News UPHSD  - philippine sports news

“Sabi lang po ni Coach is ‘wag kang mag-focus sa stats.

“Magtrabaho lang [daw] po kami, sumunod kami sa rules, sa game plan, sa practice plan. Binigay ko lang po yung tiwala ko sa teammates ko, sa coaches ko, at sa system po,” said the league’s leading MVP candidate.

Despite their unprecedented accomplishments thus far, Cleopas had only one reminder for his boys.

“We just need to stay grounded, stay humble, because wala pa talaga eh. We didn’t reach anything yet. I told the boys ‘wag muna tayong bumitaw kasi wala pa,” continued Cleopas, the founder of renowned skills camp J-Hoops.

Ahead of their final elimination game versus San Sebastian on Sunday, the Junior Altas’ head coach understands the implications of the match, a chance to cop the first seed in the Final Four.

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“San Sebastian sa next game, one of the scariest [na] kalaban, malakas talaga yun. We respect every team. We need to go back to practice, correct yung kailangang i-correct, and go back to when we started since day one – yung fundamentals namin,” Cleopas concluded.

Written By

Luis Licas is a sportswriter from the Philippines. He is currently taking up AB Communication at the Ateneo de Manila University. He writes for Ateneo’s official school publication The GUIDON, where he covers basketball, football, baseball, volleyball, and other collegiate sports. He also competed in the UAAP for the school's track and field team.

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