The UST Growling Tigers should have a lot of positive things to look into, even if they lost against the Ateneo Blue Eagles yesterday, 86-79, as they capped off their historic season with a championship.
Head coach Aldin Ayo heaped praise towards his seniors who have given their all playing their last playing years, particularly to their deadshot guard in Renzo Subido who has been instrumental to their Cinderella run in the Final Four.
The diminutive guard was huge in the clutch, including his game-winning three against the UP Fighting Maroons that sealed their spot in the Finals.
“The community is grateful sa mga ginawa at contributions ni Renzo (Subido), ni Zach (Huang), at ni Enrique (Caunan). For me, alam siguro nila yan,” said Ayo postgame.
“All season long, I was very, very hard on him (Subido). Tinutukan ko siya. May mga aspeto ng laro niya at pagkatao niya na sinusubukan ko na baguhin at iimprove. Alam namin na in the long run, makakatulong ito sa kanya. Yung mga crucial stretch namin sa do-or-die games namin, he was the one who stepped up,” he added.
Many didn’t think that UST would overcome the odds this season. After being slated as the fourth-seed in the Final Four, the Aldin Ayo-coached squad leapfrogged FEU and defeated UP twice to set a date with Ateneo in the Finals.
The Growling Tigers managed to make up their lackluster showing in Game One by putting up a valiant stand in the next game. However, the defending champions were simply too much for them.
Regardless of the result, Ayo is happy with the foundation that they built and is looking forward to Season 83 given that they’re now armed with valuable lessons and some key newcomers as well.
“Kung ano yung mga kulang namin ngayon, yun yung tratrabahuin namin. May mga recruits kami. Si Christian Manaytay galing ng La Salle. si Samudio ng Mapua, graduating na rin siya ng high school at maglalaro na rin siya. Then si Paul Manalang already served his residency,” mentioned Ayo.
“Last year, we ended up sixth. This year, we made it to the Finals. Our mindset is, even if we made it here, madami pa kaming kulang at dapat trabahuin. We’ll make sure na yung experience namin, matututo kami,” he ended.