CHICAGO - There is an anomaly sweeping across the PBA right now. But it's a very refreshing one, the kind that draws fans back into arena seats.
A team that was supposed to be lathered with tumult and turbulence as a newcomer franchise sits comfortably ahead of the league's resident powerhouses at 6-2 in the overall standings.
But while it's premature to talk about the "C" word, all signs point to a direction where Converge is in it to win it and could compete for a title sooner than later.
And that's largely because the FiberXers have one of the most brilliant and creative coaching minds in all of the Philippines.
Interviewing the charismatic Ayo was quite an enlightening experience. Find out for yourself and inhale the wit and wisdom of the celebrity coach.
SPIN.PH: What's the biggest change you had to adapt to after moving from the amateur ranks to the pros?
COACH AYO: It wasn't easy. The job is more demanding and I have to manage my time as I am taking care of my mom.
The PBA is more challenging because you have to know the right approach because the players in the league are the best of the best in the Philippines.
I have players that are experienced, talented, and well-skilled, and the challenge for me is to put them in their right roles.
SPIN.PH: After a 1-2 start, you have now won five in a row and made it look easy. What triggered the turnaround?
COACH AYO: Our goal was to have a good foundation and we were fortunate that after falling to 1-2, the players slowly embraced our system and chemistry began to develop.
SPIN.PH: Who were the coaches you looked up to while climbing the ranks in your profession?
COACH AYO: I looked up to coach Tim (Cone), Chot (Reyes), Norman (Black) and Yeng (Guiao). I watched them on TV growing up and the fact that they're still in the PBA speaks of their success.
SPIN.PH: Which team in the PBA right now is the hardest to game plan against?
COACH AYO: The Bay Area Dragons, Ginebra and San Miguel.
SPIN.PH: Which are the teams to beat for the title and why?
COACH AYO: The same teams that give me fits coaching against - Bay Area, Ginebra and San Miguel - are the ones I think are the toughest to overcome because of their talent and system.
SPIN.PH: Who are your best players on offense and defense?
COACH AYO: All my players are capable, each willing to embrace the roles assigned to them and fulfilling the tasks that it entails. But for the most part, Quincy [Miller] , Kracs [Kevin Racal], JT [Jeron Teng] and Mav [Maverick Ahanmisi] glue our offense and defense.
SPIN.PH: Outside of imports, which opposing team players give you headaches?
COACH AYO: Mark Barroca and R.R. Pogoy.
SPIN:PH: I heard you like fast cars and big bikes, what's the method to the madness?
COACH AYO: I like to go on long drives to unwind and get some fresh air.
SPIN.PH: You are known for your 4 to 5 hour practices. Have you brought that regimen to Converge?
COACH AYO: We practice at least two to three hours a day, which starts off with an optional strength and conditioning skills program. But the coaches' day doesn't end there because we still work on plays and our scouting after practice.
SPIN.PH: Any update on your life as a politician?
COACH AYO: I was a councilor for three terms in Sorsogon until I decided not to run for higher office because of my commitment to coaching. Right now, all my energy is focused on being successful at Converge where team owners Dennis Uy and ma'm Grace have given me their utmost support.
SPIN.PH: Do you have a social media presence?
COACH AYO: I'm on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I'm quite active on it because I want to be aware of what's happening in my surroundings, particularly in basketball.
EXTRA DRIBBLES. In the book One Hundred Years of Solitude, author Gabriel Garcia Marquez noted that "all human beings have three lives: public, private and secret."
In the course of my interview, coach Ayo elected to keep most of his private life a secret.
But his public persona is an open, best-selling book that is tantalizing to behold.
"I'm really happy for Aldin that he gets the chance to get back into coaching. I know he missed the 5-on-5 game. It doesn't matter what the level is, he can really coach.
"Seeing the energy that he gets out of his players, seeing the commitment he gets out of his players, that's gonna be successful at any level. He is proving that right now.
"Certainly he has answered all the questions whether he can coach in the PBA. He's got a good young team to work with and Converge is a fun team to watch. I'm happy for Aldin, he is a good guy and a good coach," former rival turned ally and friend Tab Baldwin of Ateneo said.
Other coaches, including more than a few in the PBA, have sung their praises on the former UST and LaSalle mentor.
They're not wrong.
In Aldin Ayo, we are all seeing a genius at work.