TWO of the top minds in collegiate basketball last year are set to face off again with Aldin Ayo and Jamike Jarin looking to lead their respective teams to a victory in an early marquee matchup in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament.
La Salle and National University collide on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum as both teams seek to gain a share of the lead with Ateneo.
The Green Archers and the Bulldogs tangle at 2 p.m.
The two last faced each other in 2015 when Ayo led Letran to victory over Jarin’s San Beda team in the NCAA title series.
In different leagues the following year, Ayo led La Salle to the UAAP crown in his first season and Jarin steered San Beda back to the top in the NCAA.
Now in the same league once again, Ayo and Jarin see another tactical matchup.
"They are the defending champions … They are the force to be reckoned with. They are the best college team right now," said Jarin.
"Hindi pa kami naglalaro pero sinasabi na ni coach Jamike, kami ang pinakamalakas," Ayo said. "Pero I really respect coach Jamike. Everything that he says, everything that he does has a purpose. Kung sasabihin nya sa amin 'un na offseason, wala akong iisipin na kung ano-ano. Pero kung ngayong season, he is just competing.
"He is very competitive. Minsan nga, kung titignan mo 'yung ginagawa niya, he is very creative. Iisipin mo na ginawa niya pa 'yun," said Ayo.
Aljun Melecio and Kib Montalbo are expected to lead La Salle's attack after Ben Mbala ruled himself out for Saturday's game as he has yet to return to the Philippines following his campaign for Cameroon in the Fiba Afrobasket.
J-Jay Alejandro, Dave Yu, and Reggie Morido look to continue their solid play for NU in the important match-up against the reigning champions.
Adamson and University of Sto. Tomas seek their first win when they clash in the 4:30 p.m. game.
The Falcons lost to Ateneo, 85-65, while the Tigers bowed to University of the Philippines, 74-73, on opening weekend.