Aldin Ayo, Tab Baldwin share mutual respect after tight Ateneo-UST duel
MANILA, Philippines—Rivalries aren’t just generally between two teams, coaches can be considered rivals too and it doesn’t always have to be a bitter competition.
Aldin Ayo and Tab Baldwin arrived in the league at the same time in Season 79 and they both split their two finals series with Ayo winning the first encounter as coach of La Salle and Baldwin claiming the rematch for Ateneo.
Ayo has since moved to University of Santo Tomas in Season 81 and the latest match up between the two in Season 82 seemed to have quelled the beef the two tacticians have had before.
The two exchanged smiles and pleasantries after the Blue Eagles escaped the Growling Tigers, 71-70, Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“He told me ‘I told you it’s going to be fun’ and I told him ‘good game coach,’” said Ayo. “I have nothing but respect for coach Tab. He made the UAAP better, he raised the level of competition, he made the players better.”
Ateneo is gearing up for a three-peat under Baldwin while Ayo is tasked to lead UST back to championship contention and a first Final Four appearance since Season 78 when the Growling Tigers made it to the championship series before losing to FEU.
“I was really happy that he said ‘good game’ to me after the game and I think that’s the first time ever,” said Baldwin. “I have so much respect for him and the way he does his job and you know he’s a blessing for Philippine basketball, for the UAAP.”
Ayo, who’s also a champion coach in the NCAA with the Letran Knights, acknowledges the healthy competition between him and Baldwin and he couldn’t be any prouder to have competed against a caliber of a coach.
“I grew because of him, and I think he did too,” said Ayo in Filipino. “That’s the good thing about competition especially sportsmanship. You handle it well, you take it well, and everybody benefits from it.”
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