Ayo says he will impose system of meaningful chaos on Converge and the rest of the pro league | Inquirer Sports
COMING SOON: MAYHEM

Ayo says he will impose system of meaningful chaos on Converge and the rest of the pro league

/ 04:40 AM September 14, 2022
Former Letran ace Kevin Racal (right) reunites with Aldin Ayo at Converge.  —PBA IMAGES

Former Letran ace Kevin Racal (right) reunites with Aldin Ayo at Converge.—PBA IMAGES

Aldin Ayo scaled the local varsity leagues’ mountain top using a brand of basketball that found order in the chaotic. He called it “Mayhem.”

He promises to unleash the same breathless and cutthroat style in the pro ranks later this month.

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“It would be the same,” Ayo told reporters who asked if he would be introducing Mayhem to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) during a virtual chat on Tuesday afternoon.

“If there’s any change, I guess it’s that it’s going to be more exciting,” he added with a smile.

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Ayo, a champion with Letran in the National Collegiate Athletic Association and with La Salle in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), will now steer the Converge franchise starting in the Commissioner’s Cup.

The Sorsogon City native knows all too well that the pro level is an entirely different beast compared to the varsity arena he twice ruled, so he is pinning his aspirations for a deep run on a FiberXers squad that has grown more and more accustomed to his system.

“We have talented players. And these players fit our system,” the 44-year-old mentor said.

Ayo inherits a crew that features players he coached in college: Former Letran ace Kevin Racal, ex-La Salle skippers Jeron Teng and Aljun Melecio, and another former Green Archers standout in Abu Tratter.

‘Young, athletic’

Also in the bunch are youngsters Alec Stockton, Allyn Bulanadi and RK Ilagan, who have all proven to be capable players early into their PBA careers.

“These players are young, athletic and high-character and they’re very responsive to what we’ve been doing so far,” said Ayo.

Ayo is expecting that the trek to join the PBA’s hierarchy would be a steep one. But there’s no mountain high enough for someone who is up to the task, according to Converge governor and former PBA commissioner Chito Salud.

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“He’s always hungry, pushing borders and testing limits. And that’s what [Converge] is, and that’s what we do,” the team executive said. “No knock on the performance of coach Jeff Cariaso … but we just needed somebody, at this time, who can hone and push these guys to the limit and be more competitive—day in and day out.”

Converge, which bought the franchise of the Alaska Aces during the offseason, finished with a 5-6 win-loss record during the Philippine Cup. The FiberXers made the playoffs of the centerpiece tournament as the seventh seed, but they bowed down to then-defending champion and twice-to-beat TNT in the quarterfinals.

Redemption

Ayo could also find redemption in the PBA after a fall from grace that many attributed to his obsession to winning.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, amid a nationwide lockdown, Ayo ferried the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tigers—who were coming off a runner-up finish in the UAAP—to his hometown of Sorsogon.

Once reports of the camp leaked out in a controversial manner, Ayo was removed from UST and had been pining for a return to the España-based school ever since. His last-ditch charm offensive was eventually blocked by UST.

But he looks far removed from that incident, opting to train his focus on his upcoming PBA debut.

“We’ll just have to take care of the things that we could control. Which is establishing a system and making these young players become the best players that they can be. We’ll make sure of that,” Ayo said.

“We always want to push ourselves to the limit. Hopefully, our best will be enough to win lots of games. Let’s see where those wins would take us,” he added.

“I think it will be new for the PBA, the way we play,” he said. “It will be an entertaining show both on offense and defense.” INQ

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