ALDIN Ayo will bring “mayhem” to the UAAP men’s basketball tournament as his new team La Salle, the consensus favorite for the title, takes on defending champion Far Eastern University in a clash of heavyweights at 4 p.m. today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The architect of punishing pressing defense that carried Letran to the NCAA throne last season, Ayo is ready for the challenges ahead since the rest of the league knows what he can put on the table.
“Well, of course. Your system is always influenced by your personality. Kung saan ka nasanay. So same identity, mayhem. We are going to trap everybody. Hindi kami kakalas sa sistema namin,” said Ayo.
Unlike with the Knights where hardwork compensates for lack of firepower, the Green Archers are so locked and loaded from the first to the 16th man that a failure to win the championship will mean a total disappointment.
La Salle boasts of the deep frontline led by Cameroonian Ben Mbala, who will finally show his stuff after a three-year wait, a solid offensive firepower with senior guard Jeron Teng leading the way and a slew of talented rookies starring Aljun Melecio.
“If you win, then siyempre matutuwa ka. If you lose, siyempre hindi ka matutuwa. As simple as that. Although, ’yun nga, grabe ang expectations. Pero everytime ang sitwasyon, if you take it positively, it will motivate you more,” said Ayo.
While the Archers looked formidable, this cannot be said of the Tamaraws, who almost lost the entire starting five led by Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia to graduation.
But Ayo believes that with coach Nash Racela at the helm, FEU is still capable enough of winning title No. 21 and foiling La Salle’s quest of getting back the championship it last won in 2013.
“They are the defending champs. For me, they are still contenders. They have the materials and the coaching staff. You can’t take away the confidence na kakapanalo mo lang,” said Ayo.
Racela likes that the Tamaraws are not the favorites, as they simply wanted to go down to business and try their very best to remain as one of the elite teams.
“I think, FEU has always been like that, under the radar, especially in the last couple of years. Personally, I like that, ayoko namang lagi kaming pinag-uusapan,” said Racela.
“Kami okay rin na ganito, tahimik lang. Let our performance speaks for ourselves,” he added.
National University, the 2014 champions, plays University of the East in the curtain raiser at 2 p.m.