Ayo sets sights on future as UST’s surprisingly decent season winds down

UST head coach Aldin Ayo is already planning a step ahead.

With the Growling Tigers’ season effectively over after a loss against UP on Saturday booted them out of Final Four contention, the spirited mentor bared that he and his team won’t be resting for long after they wrap up their UAAP Season 81 campaign on Wednesday.

That might sound a little early, but considering the fact that they haven’t had a lengthy build-up as a complete team right before the season started, it’s pretty understandable why Ayo would want to start right away.

“Makakapag-ensayo na kami nang matagal na kumpleto, Siguro we’re going to take a two-week break lang after ng November 14, [tapos] siguro we’re going to start practicing ng first week ng December,” he said after the game.

Ayo also bared that he’s been preparing the Tigers’ team B along with his main squad.

But the most important aspect of UST’s basketball program that he’s developing isn’t the one that’s hitting the court right now, as he revealed that he’s made frequent visits to their grassroots program.

Handling that program are assistant coaches Bonnie Garcia and Marvin Pangilinan, as well as McJour Luib — one of Ayo’s players with Letran in the NCAA.

“I attended a practice doon sa 15-under namin, so everything is on the right track. ‘Yung 15-under na iyon galing doon sa grassroots hanggang sa seniors namin, actually for the past week iyon ‘yung inaasikaso ko but still, we’re doing our job during the season – making sure na ready ‘yung regular namin – kaya gusto ko lang na may tama lahat ng program namin,” he explained.

Don’t be surprised to see Ayo on the sidelines with the Tiger Cubs, too. Wanting to maintain a uniform system under his tenure with UST’s program, he opened that he’ll be sitting as a consultant for the juniors’ squad in their upcoming run.

He doesn’t want to veer far from younger talents, anyway, since that’s an area where he spent most of his days as a young coach.

“Bababa naman ako sa juniors, ako naman ang maging consultant and na-miss ko kasi magturo sa 12-under, sa 15-under. Doon kasi ako galing. Nagi-start ako doon, tinuturuan ko ‘yung mga bata,” Ayo said.

“I’ll be there. Baka uupo rin ako sa bench eh kasi one system, one program. Coach Bonnie [will call the shots]. Siya iyon. Ako nandoon lang, oversee ng ginagawa nila pero call niya lahat iyon,” he added.

They may not have gotten farther than they would have wanted, but this season’s still a success in Ayo’s book, especially after they were pegged as bottom-dwellers before the season started.

And with this hands-on approach on almost every aspect of the program, the Sorsogon native is giving UST a lot of reasons to be optimistic about in the upcoming years.

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