Philippine basketball got shook up last Dec. 26 with Aldin Ayo reportedly leaving his post at DLSU and take on the head coaching duties for the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.
The potential transfer already made headlines during the UAAP Season 80 basketball wars though it was treated no more than a rumor. Now it has become a reality, and DLSU has been technically left in “mayhem.“
The sudden change of heart took everyone by surprise. This writer made several calls to DLSU Alumni representatives and most responded by saying that it was not true. Not long after, someone close to the sports program raised a glaring error from one of the reporting sites and noted that there was an error on who would be bolting the DLSU camp.
It served a great opportunity to finally determine if Ayo was staying or leaving. It turns out that the temperamental coach had already left the day before (Dec. 26) and brought a couple of his coaches with him. When asked on why the sudden change of heart, the source pointed out the main reasons behind the decision of Ayo to leave. One was because he was not able to get full control of the La Salle Basketball program and the other was the growing rift Ayo had with some members of the alumni.
Considering Ayo got almost everything except total control of the school’s basketball program, some have sounded off greed as the reason for bailing out. It is likely that Ayo got that from UST backers though the money involved has yet to be revealed.
Another source reveals that the deal was for six-years, more than enough time for Ayo to whip up the UST Growling Tigers and possibly win a UAAP title.
Can the Growling Tigers unleash Mayhem?
To date, nothing has been made official. However, the designation of Ayo as head coach is considered moot and academic. After that, the next question on the minds of Thomasians is whether Ayo’s magic can immediately create a difference for the woeful Growling Tigers. They do have a promising bunch, led by Marvin Lee, Steve Akomo plus some other returning players. But will that be enough?
On paper, it would be unfair to compare the talent UST has with DLSU. Ayo came in to set the Green Archers on the right path. The team had Ben Mbala, Aljun Melecio and more. Most of the players were proven and talented, practically an all-star team that needed to be appropriately managed.
Ayo is likely to recruit players to fill in gaps on the UST roster. UAAP Season 81 will be interesting, and most expect mayhem defense to be the prime play for Ayo. But after that, what else?
Ayo can’t rely on “Mayhem Defense” forever
After winning the UAAP Season 79 crown, most questioned Ayo’s ability to map out plays and make adjustments. One even quipped that all he had was his mayhem defense and nothing else. As most know, the Ateneo Blue Eagles solved that riddle en route to the UAAP Season 80 crown.
If Ayo is to succeed, he needs to work outside the box and come up with new plays and tactics. He may have the power, but his coaching brilliance will be put to the test.
Similar to DLSU, Ayo is expected to feel the heat from some key figures of the UST alumni. Regardless, he got what he wanted – full control. Now he needs to deliver and hopefully bring back the basketball glory years to Espana.