Aldin Ayo glad the system he wants for Converge is now in place
Count coach Aldin Ayo among the many surprised over Converge’s run thus far in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The FiberXers have compiled a 5-2 record in the midseason showcase, within that mark a four-game winning streak that counts heavyweights San Miguel Beer, TNT and Meralco as victims.
“We’re not expecting this,” Ayo said as he shook his head during a chat with the Inquirer shortly after whipping Blackwater over the weekend.
“Our priority really is to establish a system,” he went on. “That’s really our concern.”
It’s not like the rookie PBA coach is not delighted to see this crew he inherited from the remnants of the last of the Alaska Aces squad thrive in his first conference at the helm. He is simply taking the long view.
“It’s good that all this is happening,” he said of the streak, which is currently the league’s second-longest behind Phoenix’s five straight that was forged at the expense of TNT later that night.
“But really, what’s important for us here is to establish something—because at the end of the day, if we want to be really successful, to really get far, a footing should be there. We have to have a foundation in place,” he said.
Ayo also kept it simple when asked about the one thing that has spurred Converge’s stride.
“Everybody is sticking to a system. That’s all there is to it,” he said. “All of the players, especially [import] Q (Quincy Miller) is making lots of adjustments to be that big man that our system needs. Other players are taking the cue from that. Everyone is just buying into the system.”
Running third, Converge still has five games left in its elimination round campaign. One of them is against crowd darling Barangay Ginebra, handled by no less the league’s winningest coach in Tim Cone.
Face-off with greatest
The two clubs were supposed to face off early into the conference, but that duel was postponed due to bad weather.
And Ayo feels that the development is working in his favor.
“It’s a bit of a blessing that it was pushed back. That gives me more time to acclimatize to the environment of the PBA. Also, more time to learn before playing the winningest coach whom we tackle at the end [of the round],” he said.
“It’s like preparing me for the main event,” he went on with a smile.
Between now and the clash with the Gin Kings, the FiberXers will still have to play NLEX, Phoenix, Rain or Shine, and then NorthPort.
And Ayo is not taking that stretch for granted.
“I’m still in the same headspace—that every game, every day, every practice, I have to learn. I’ve always been a student of this game. And as days go by, things are working out for me for the better.
“I remember going up against coach Leo [Austria], coach Norman [Black], and coach Chot [Reyes]. I get to learn something little along the way. Every time you get to compete with these great coaches, you tend to get something.”
In related league news, Meralco is reeling in KJ McDaniels to salvage its woeful campaign, according to Black.
The Bolts are currently 1-5 in the conference and are pinning their hopes for a turnaround on the 29-year-old American who has proven himself reliable to the clubs’ corporate siblings TNT and just recently, NLEX.
McDaniels peaked right in time for the Road Warriors during the last Governors’ Cup, but had to return to the United States for the birth of his first child.
A bit undersized for the Commissioner’s Cup at 6-foot-6, McDaniels replaces original choice Johnny O’Bryant, whom the Bolts were forced to stick to after Jessie Govan was measured to be over the 6-foot-10 height limit.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.