Ayo carves coaching niche with titles from 2 leagues
When Aldin Ayo accepted the La Salle coaching job around this time last year, his loyalty and character were questioned by people he didn’t even know.
“I heard a lot of bad things about me, but the worst was probably the reason why I took the [La Salle] job was because of the money,” Ayo told the Inquirer moments after the Green Archers wrested the crown at the expense of the Ateneo Blue Eagles before a mammoth crowd at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
As Ayo got his validation with another title, the coach couldn’t help but get emotional as he recounted his journey toward becoming the first coach to claim titles in two major collegiate leagues in consecutive years.
The 39-year-old got his big break at Letran, which he led to the NCAA crown last year at the expense of a heavily favored San Beda squad. It was the other way around for Ayo this season as he had to pilot a La Salle team picked to dominate the league right from the start.
“We worked very hard for this,” said Ayo as he piloted a star-studded team that had to battle through expectations the entire season.
“On and off the court, I had to deal with issues.”
Ayo admitted having to go through personal challenges himself as the move took a toll on his family.
“I wanted to quit the first few months into the job,” said Ayo. “I went all in on this. I had to give up so many things in my life. I lost my family.”
Impressed with the way he led an underdog Letran squad to the NCAA title against San Beda, La Salle’s management did offer Ayo a lucrative three-year deal reportedly pegged at P9 million.
But for the young and ambitious coach from Sorsogon, it wasn’t just about the financial aspect of the move that lured him from his alma mater in Intramuros to Taft.
“It was all about the love of the game,” he said. “Basketball is my life. I wanted to reach the top, although it was very hard for me to leave Letran. “But I always loved the challenge that the game brings.”
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