LETRAN had used low preseason ratings from media as fuel for a solid start, and had been drawing motivation all season long from rival teams’ comments.
Now coach Aldin Ayo is thanking Mapua for giving Letran the added motivation to finish the tournament strong.
Ayo revealed somebody from the Mapua side, apparently relieved to avoid five-time champion San Beda in the semifinals, personally thanked him at the MOA Arena before Final Four.
“One guy, nakasabay ko sa CR, paglabas, tinapik ako. Sabi sa akin, ‘Coach, pasalamat kami kayo ang kalaban namin,’” said Ayo.
Now the first-year Knights coach is sending out his thanks to their Intramuros neighbors.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa Mapua kasi they motivated us. Actually, they provoked us,” said Ayo.
Ayo also didn’t like how Mapua celebrated in front of them after the Cardinals won the playoff match for the No. 3 seeding against Jose Rizal University on Friday.
“Right after the buzzer, nung nanalo sila, they kept on shouting ‘Arriba Letran! Arriba Letran!’ eh nasa likuran kami.”
But Ayo noted such actions sparked the fire in him.
“Again, insecure ako galing ako probinsya eh,” said Ayo, who is from Sorsogon.
“The whole season, minamaliit kami. I told the boys that they have to process it and make that as a motivation. That’s exactly what we did in this game.”
Ayo also revealed he was so focused on the game he blocked off outside communication and stayed at the Letran quarters in preparation for the Final Four.
“Hindi ako lumalabas ng bahay. Last three days, hinouse ako ng mga pari sa taas ng Letran. Isolated ako doon. For three days, wala akong makausap na iba, even my family. I just keep working kung ano dapat gawin. Nagfe-Facebook ako minsan pero hindi ko alam kung ano meron. Gusto ko lang focus,” said Ayo.