UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas head coach Aldin Ayo said that the Tigers failed to play good defense down the stretch against National University Bulldogs in the 61-69 loss on Sunday, but he remained optimistic as they continue their journey in UAAP Season 81.
The Tigers saw their three-game winning streak get snapped, while also letting the Bulldogs complete a season sweep in their head-to-head matchup as they dropped to 4-5 for joint fifth place.
And for the UST coach, in a tough loss like this, he wants the young Tigers to remember their love for the game.
“Ang pinaghandaan namin during the preseason, pinaghandaan the whole week before this game, as I’ve told the players magsisimula sa bahay, sa upbringing mindset na if you have that kind of weakness iisipin mo gaano mo ka-mahal basketball,” he said.
“If you love that game that much, you have to overcome that weakness because you’re gonna give that kind of impression and it’s not a good impression if you can’t play defense down the stretch.”
Ayo believes that his team will bounce back from that setback and he is challenging his wards to get out of their comfort zone not only on defense but also on offense.
“But we’re going to work that out, wait for them, work that together, be patient with the players and hopefully they respond,” the UST coach said.
“It’s getting out of their comfort zone while playing D. It’s not only playing defense, on offense decision making also who’s going to take the shot,” he added. “We don’t have bad shots in UST, we have good, better, and best shots, those shots were good shots, the shots taken by the bigs were good shots but there were better and best shots eh and di namin hinanap yun.”
The new UST coach, who won titles with Letran in NCAA and De La Salle in UAAP, once again stressed that he is not about their destination, as he focuses on how would the Tigers compete in this journey.
”Hindi kami masyado concerned sa spot eh, i just want to compete, wala kaming pakialam kung pang ilan kami, kung papasok sa Final Four or hindi. We’re taking it one game at a time,” he said.
In fact, Ayo was happy about the continuous growth of rookie CJ Cansino and the seven other freshmen as well as the holdovers.
“I’m proud of all the players, kung titignan mo paano umpisa,” he said. “Nakita niyo naman standing namin during the preseason di kami makapag compete but those rookies worked hard and I’m truly proud of them not only the rookies but also the holdovers because when we started di ganyan mga yan eh.”
“I’m happy that in spite of the limitations and the weaknesses, the shortcomings. If you see how they started the initial input in terms of skills malayo na na improve ng players and I’m sure di makukuntento mga yan, we’ll keep working hard para ilabas potential ng mga bata,” he added.
Ayo also thanked the roaring and screaming UST crowd and he hopes that they will be there for the rest of their Season 81 campaign.
“We’re grateful that we have this support. Grabeng suporta ng community and that’s why inspired yung mga players, even the coaches,” he said. “We really need them especially pag narinig na namin yung ‘Go USTe. Go USTe’ it adds fire eh.“
“I know na nagrequest na si CJ na sana nandoon na yung support ng community. Ako naman personally hingi rin ako ng support sa community na sana next games,” he concluded. “We’re inviting all Thomasians students and alumni kaya natin punuin. Eto naman yung rest assured, we’re going to do our best pipigain namin lahat para madeserve lang natin yung panalo.”