Abando, Tigers shrug off distractions to nab crucial victory
ANTIPOLO CITY—Every team deals with distractions but University of Santo Tomas takes the cake for dealing with the biggest disturbance this year.
The Growling Tigers were embroiled in a recruiting fiasco after it was reported that one of the schools in the league tried to pry Abando away from them while the athletic forward was serving his one-year residency.
But UST head coach Aldin Ayo and the Tigers were determined to block out all the distractions as they were gunning to solidify their place in the Final Four.
“This game was important to us because of the standings and not for anything else,” said Ayo in Filipino after the Growling Tigers beat National University 88-76 Saturday at Ynares Center here.
“This is basketball, you shouldn’t mix it with outside factors. Every time a game starts, whatever happens, you put everything aside and just play, and for me, be a coach.”
Abando was in the middle of the brouhaha and things began to unravel when he was benched in UST’s 84-78 win over University of the Philippines.
Nevertheless, Ayo told Abando to just play his game and the athletic forward aggressively looked for his shots against the Bulldogs.
Abando had nine points albeit on a poor 4-of-13 shooting with five rebounds.
“I just told him to play his usual game and all of us were telling him to just be himself,” said Ayo as the Growling Tigers improved to a 7-5 record to stay at the top half of the standings.
“I always tell them that whatever issues they have outside the court, just leave it behind and focus on the game at hand.”
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