Tim Cone says new Converge coach Aldin Ayo is due for PBA glory

Scottie Thompson (red) and the Kings will have to wait a little longer before testing the defensive teeth of Aldin Ayo’s FiberXers. —PBA IMAGES

Scottie Thompson (red) and the Kings will have to wait a little longer before testing the defensive teeth of Aldin Ayo’s FiberXers. —PBA IMAGES

Aldin Ayo may be a neophyte coach in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) but Tim Cone sees plenty of promise in him.

“He’s been successful everywhere he has coached. I expect him to be very successful in the PBA,” Cone told the Inquirer late Sunday after the scheduled game between his Barangay Ginebra and Ayo’s Converge at Mall of Asia Arena was postponed due to Super Typhoon “Karding.”

The contest would have seen Ayo getting his first acid test in the pros in a sideline duel against Cone, the PBA’s winningest coach.

Ayo won his maiden PBA game last Friday when the FiberXers ripped the Terrafirma Dyip, 124-110, at Philsports Arena in Pasig City, then described what he felt was a gargantuan task of facing Tim Cone and the talented Gin Kings side.

Cone also feels the same way.

“I had envisioned a really tough game, but that won’t change [even] when we play later in the conference,” said Cone.

Before the game was called off, Ginebra was looking to neutralize Converge’s fast-paced play, its knack of hitting the rainbow shots and its defensive schemes that made Ayo a successful coach in the collegiate ranks.

Converge beat Terrafirma behind an all-around showing from first-time PBA import Quincy Miller with help from veteran Maverick Ahanmisi and newly-acquired Aljun Melecio.

On the flip side, the talent-rich Ginebra roster would have posed a hefty challenge for Converge, with the Kings flaunting the likes of Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Christian Standhardinger, Stanley Pringle, LA Tenorio and prized recruit Jamie Malonzo.

Red flags

Aldin Ayo made his PBA coaching debut on Friday. –PBA IMAGES

That was why Ayo was still looking at red flags despite a winning start to his Converge tenure.

“We couldn’t sustain our defense; we had a lot of [problems] with our individual defense. We don’t want this kind of game, a high-scoring ball game,” he said after the win against Terrafirma.

“We had a lot of lapses on the defensive end. The offense will just come, especially with our pace. There will be lots of possessions, lots of three-point shots, but the priority is always defense.”

Malonzo was forced to wait a few more days before making his Ginebra debut, which will now be on Wednesday against coach Yeng Guiao and Rain or Shine.

Rain or Shine failed to give Guiao a rousing start to his second stint with the club, losing 96-90 to his former team NLEX also on Friday.

With the coaching battle with Ayo set aside for now, Cone now has his eyes set on trying to figure out a way to beat an old foe.

“We’ll just use the extra days to get more ready for our opening game against coach Yeng and [Rain or Shine],” Cone said. INQ