Ayo hoped for 'Dominican double,' wants Balanza and Co. to earn Letran degree

Nov 23, 2019
UST coach Aldin Ayo is on the sidelines along with assistant coach and former Letran guard McJour Luib, who was part of the 2015 Letran champion team.
PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

ALDIN Ayo would have wanted to deliver a "Dominican double" this collegiate basketball season, with Letran and University of Santo Tomas both shooting for the championships in their respective leagues.

The Knights won the NCAA Season 95 title upending San Beda, but the Growling Tigers couldn't follow suit, settling for runner-up against Ateneo in UAAP Season 82.

Despite UST's bridesmaid finish, the Sorsogon-born mentor is filled with gratitude for the support it garnered from Letran.

"We are grateful sa suporta," said Ayo, wishing that he would have returned the favor had the two Finals series not coincided with one another.

"Although gusto naming sumuporta at gusto naming manood, may trabaho eh, especially magkadikit lang. Yung preparation at routine namin, masisira."

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It may not seem evident, but the ties that bind both Dominican schools' basketball teams goes deeper than just their religious order.

Ayo, a Letranite, was the architect of the Growling Tigers' return to title contention this season in only his second year at the helm in UST.

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    Meanwhile, coach Bonnie Tan, a Thomasian, led the Knights to the championship in only his first year as the head coach, the first since Letran captured the title in 2015 under Ayo.

    And though UST failed to cop gold the way Letran did this year, Ayo will always be happy for the success his alma mater got.

    "In terms of support, Letranista tayo eh, ganoon pa din naman. The whole Letran community is happy. Nami-miss namin pero katulad ng regular na empleyado, may gusto kang gawin pero may trabaho ka eh," the 42-year-old mentor said.

    "Kami, busy kami dito sa UST at masaya kami dito. Of course, we miss our alma mater, pero nandito kami sa trabaho na masaya at grabe din yung suporta ng UST namin."

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    There's just one thing Ayo requests from the remnants of the 2015 championship team, namely Jerrick Balanza, Tommy Olivario, and Christian Balagasay: for them to earn their collegiate degrees.

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      "Congratulations, especially to Jerrick dahil alam naman natin ang pinagdaanan ng batang yun. Pero sasabihin ko ulit, Jerrick won two championships already pero ang main objective namin is for him to have a degree and they have to finish their courses," the stern mentor addressed to his former players.

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      "Sa 2015 na team namin, si Jerrick, si Tommy, at si Christian na lang ang hinihintay namin. Sana matapos na nila. Doon mo masasabi na champion ka na sa basketball at champion ka na sa academics. Magandang accomplishment yan."

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      UST coach Aldin Ayo is on the sidelines along with assistant coach and former Letran guard McJour Luib, who was part of the 2015 Letran champion team.
      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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