[Here's part two of our preview of UAAP Season 79]
Season 78 review: Missed the Final Four after finishing sixth with a 6-8 win-loss record
Key holdovers: Jeron Teng, Abu Tratter, Kib Montalbo, Thomas Torres, Jason Perkins, Andrei Caracut, Prince Rivero
Newcomers: Ben Mbala, Aljun Melecio, Justine Baltazar, Ricci Rivero
LA Salle is favored to win it all in UAAP Season 79 with its deep pool of talent. But talent alone won’t be enough to propel the Green Archers to the title, according to head coach Aldin Ayo.
What’s sure is that Ayo will continue to implement the same defensive style that led Letran to the NCAA title last year. The Green Archers simply call it ‘Mayhem.’
“Of course, the system is always influenced by your personality at kung saan ka nasanay. Same identity. Mayhem. We are going to trap everyone. Kung puwede lang pagbaba na pagbaba sa bus, ita-trap na namin, gagawin na namin ‘yun,” said Ayo.
“We are going to trap all the way,” the NCAA champion coach added.
Season 79 will see the anticipated UAAP debut of Ben Mbala, the Cameroonian center who has been nothing but dominant in the preseason for the Green Archers. Of course, Jeron Teng is still around, seeking to win a second UAAP crown to cap his collegiate career.
Other holdovers are expected to make an impact with Abu Tratter proving to be a revelation so far for the squad. Thomas Torres, Kib Montalbo, and Prince Rivero have also been a big boost for the Green Archers, who will have Jason Perkins and Julian Sargeant returning for one more season.
Rookies Aljun Melecio from La Salle-Zobel, Ricci Rivero of La Salle Greenhills, and Justine Baltazar of National University have also joined the already talent-laden squad.
However, Ayo said the thing that impresses him the most with his talented team is his players’ work ethic.
“These are the hardest working guys I’ve seen. Isa lang ang objective nila, and that is manalo. Lahat na ng suporta, nasa kanila na,” said Ayo.
Even with the weight of expectations on their shoulders, Ayo welcomes the challenge.
“Here in La Salle, they are expecting us to win it all. Pero it’s just basketball. Every time you coach and play basketball, the first thing that comes to mind is to win,” said Ayo.
“Pressure is everywhere. It’s inevitable. If I’ve stayed in Letran, there is pressure to repeat. Now sa La Salle, there is pressure to win,” he added.