La Salle 'extra motivated' to get back at Ateneo, says coach Aldin Ayo
Aldin Ayo says the loss to Ateneo in the elims is still fresh in the Archers' minds. Jaime Campos

LA Salle is not lacking in motivation as it looks to settle a score with Ateneo in Game One of the UAAP Season 79 men's basketball finals on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

La Salle coach Aldin Ayo admitted he and the top-seeded Green Archers were crestfallen after a 51-62 loss to Ateneo in the second round of the eliminations that ended the team's 12-game win streak.

“That loss makes you ponder kung gaano kahirap ‘yung mga na-experience mo bago ka makarating sa ganitong level,” said Ayo, who led an underdog Letran side past San Beda in last year's NCAA finals.

That the loss came at the hands of a bitter rival in Ateneo made the feeling worse, the coach said.

“Extra motivated kami,” said the La Salle coach. “They took something from us. Hindi namin makakalimutan ‘yung November 5.”

[See Five questions that are begging for answers ahead of La Salle-Ateneo finals]

“Sa La Salle kasi, grabe expectation. Although isang talo lang namin ‘yun pero feeling namin, nawala lahat.”

Fortunately for Ayo, the Green Archers have since steadied the ship, beating Far Eastern University at the end of the eliminations and Adamson in the Final Four.

Now they're back on track to win a first championship since 2013 - and a second in as many years for Ayo.

“Ang kagandahan, feeling lang ‘yun. Isang talo lang naman. We have a chance to redeem ourselves,” said Ayo. “We’ve moved on. Bumawi naman ‘yung mga bata sa mga ensayo namin. Maganda ang tinatakbo, physically ready ang mga bata.”

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