COACH Aldin Ayo returns to Davao to vie for the Kadayawan Invitational title, this time tasked to steer University of Sto. Tomas to victory after La Salle’s abbreviated stint last year.
Ayo, who missed the championship last year after an infamous brawl between the Green Archers and rival Far Eastern University, will be at the helm of the Tigers after leaving the La Salle after last season’s UAAP finals loss to Ateneo.
The emphasis of the organizing Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas 11 will be on fair play when the Tigers and the rest of the four-team cast battle it out for the title serving as one of the sporting highlights of the annual Kadayawan Festival.
The tournament gets going on Friday at the Davao City Recreation Center in Davao City.
SBP 11 director Glenn Escandor, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte's adviser for sports, said he stressed the need to play clean and stay away from altercations to the four teams taking part in this year's edition of the annual hoopfest mounted by the city government of Davao.
"We don't want the incident last year to happen again so we told the teams to play by the book and not to let their emotions get the better of them," Escandor said.
The Green Archers were on the way to another finals stint last year when they got involved in an fracas that resulted in their disqualification, paving the way for UST and the Davao All Stars to play for the championship won by the Tigers, 87-76, at the University of Southeastern Philippines Gymnasium and Cultural Center.
Ayo looked set for back-to-back titles in Davao after the Green Archers won the Araw ng Davao tournament in 2016.
Interestingly, Ayo will be up against his former assistant Miggy Solitaria who will be at the reins of the youth-laden Davao City Go-Duterte squad composed of collegiate standouts from Davao schools. The SBP11-backed team was formed two months ago and recently won an out of town event, beating University of Visayas in Barobo, Surigao del Sur.
SBP 11 chief of operations Ronel Leuterio met the four teams on the eve of today's opening ceremonies with Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio invited as guest of honor. Mayor Duterte-Carpio and Escandor will preside over the ceremonial toss with SBP 11 officials Francis Calatrava and Mans Carpio and City Sports Office officer-in-charge Mikey Aportadera.
Also seeing action in the 83rd Kadayawan showpiece are the National University Bulldogs, who will miss the services of PBA great Danny Ildefonso's son Dave who is playing for the Batang Gilas in the ongoing FIBA Asia U18. The third squad is Cebu City's University of Cebu Webmasters, the school that produced PBA star June Mar Fajardo.