ALDIN Ayo is set to move from La Salle to University of Santo Tomas after two seasons with the Green Archers.
While his stint at La Salle didn't last as long as expected, Ayo’s two-year stay with the Green Archers also had its moments, from his finest hours to the controversial ones.
Here are some of highs and lows of Ayo’s run as La Salle coach.
LOW: The sudden exit from Letran right after winning the NCAA crown
Ayo began his stint with the Green Archers in a rather controversial way in December 2015, leaving a Letran squad that was fresh from winning the NCAA crown in his first season with the Knights. Despite the move, Ayo was able to join the Knights during the raising of the championship banner at the Letran gym a few days before he committed to join La Salle. It was a signal of things to come for the Green Archers after bringing in a young, champion coach, with the ‘Mayhem’ mantra into their fold.
LOW: The heated tune-up games against FEU
Ayo was at the center of two controversial scrimmages against Far Eastern University leading up to the UAAP season. In 2016, Ayo was accused of ordering his players to throw the ball in the direction of FEU coach Nash Racela, leading to a near melee. A full-blown brawl, meanwhile, erupted in the summer of 2017 during the Kadayawan Festival basketball tournament in Davao where Ayo was also accused of choking FEU cager Arvin Tolentino. Ayo denied he had a hand in both controversies.
HIGH: La Salle wins first 12 games under Ayo in the UAAP
They say first impressions last, and boy, Ayo made a big impression in his first few games with La Salle, steering the Green Archers to a 12-0 start before succumbing to Ateneo in the penultimate game of the season. Still, the streak was one of the most dominant runs in a season, including a 43-point thumping over University of Santo Tomas.
LOW: The eyeglass gesture to a referee that got Ayo ejected
In a game against University of the East in the UAAP, Ayo was thrown out after complaining to the officials. What prompted the referees to eject Ayo, however, was his gesture of attempting to make a game official wear an eyeglass.
HIGH: Ayo shows kind side despite erratic play of Abu Tratter
One of the most memorable scenes of Ayo’s La Salle stint came in 2016 after Abu Tratter committed two successive turnovers. Instead of blowing his top, Ayo was seen encouraging and greeting Tratter with a smile and hug, a moment caught by TV cameras. Truly a different side to the intense coach.
HIGH: Ayo leads La Salle back to UAAP throne in his first year as Green Archers coach
It didn’t take long for Ayo to make a mark at La Salle. In only his first year with the Green Archers, Ayo led La Salle to the 2016 crown, sweeping Ateneo in the best-of-three finals. Led by the coaching wisdom of Ayo along with the dominance of Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng, the Green Archers finished the eliminations with a 13-1 card. Ayo became the only coach in modern day history to win the NCAA and UAAP title in successive years.
HIGH: La Salle breaks Ateneo’s elimination sweep bid in Season 80
The Blue Eagles were on the verge of completing a 14-0 elims sweep last season as they were holding a seven-point lead against archrival Green Archers. Things looked bleak for La Salle, with Ayo even throwing his jacket in frustration over what he believed was a blown call in the fourth quarter. But that turned out to be the spark La Salle needed. Led by Mbala, Ricci Rivero, and Kib Montalbo, La Salle scored the last 10 points of the game to beat Ateneo, 79-76, dealing the Blue Eagles their first defeat of the season.
HIGH: La Salle comes back from a 21-point deficit in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 80 finals
The Green Archers trailed 49-28 in the second quarter of Game 2 and a coronation looked a sure thing for Ateneo. Instead, Ayo engineered one of the greatest comebacks in modern UAAP Finals history as a 26-8 third-quarter run led to a 92-83 victory that tied the series at one game apiece.
LOW: Another sudden departure as Ayo bolts La Salle for UST
Ayo has stayed mum on reports of his sudden exit from La Salle, despite numerous and continuous attempts from SPIN.ph to reach out to him. Yet, much talk has circulated even during the season of his departure from the Green Archers. After a heartbreaking finals loss, the enigmatic coach refused to shed light on the reports, even as La Salle released a statement of support, only for the champion coach to have a change of heart right in the midst of the holiday season.