Ayo proud his team played defense in NCAA All-Star Game

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 22, 2015 03:32 PM
Ayo proud his team played defense in NCAA All-Star Game
DEFENSIVE-MINDED. West coach Aldin Ayo was out to prove that even in the All-Star Game, defense wins championships.

Whether it’s the NBA or the PBA, All-Star Games have always been high-scoring affairs which focus on offense and forget about defense.

That was also the case when the NCAA held its first-ever midseason event a year ago with the East team edging out the West team 104-97.

Come this season’s All-Star Game on Friday at the San Juan Arena, however, first-time participant Bright Akhuetie voiced out his surprise that their opponents were playing defense. “Is this how the All-Star Game is played here? They’re defending and pressing,” the Nigerian from the East All-Stars told ABS-CBN Sports while laughing during the halftime break.

The reason the West All-Stars were playing defense? Aldin Ayo – he of Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s “magulo basketball” and tireless pressure defense – was calling the shots from the sidelines.

Ayo said as much in his interview with reporters following his team’s exciting 89-88 win, “Sabi ko sa kanila (players), ‘All-Star Game ‘to, but we’re going to play defense.”

The West coach was so committed to playing defense in the All-Star Game that he shared that he was tempted to pull-out eventual MVP Jonathan Grey because the latter wasn’t defending the way the former would have liked. Moreover, with his team down in the last five minutes, Ayo sent out his three All-Star Knights to lead their team to a full-court pressing defense.

The Letran mentor said that even the All-Star Game was not safe from being turned “magulo.” “We wanted to make the game ugly,” Ayo said – essentially another version of his classic quote saying that his teams thrive on chaos.

Just like their situation in Intramuros, the West coach’s desire to make the game ugly stemmed from the fact that their opponents’ lineup is much more loaded than theirs. Ergo, Ayo’s boys needed to make it up in other areas to overcome a roster that featured Art Dela Cruz, Jiovani Jalalon, and Teytey Teodoro, among others.

“Laging sinasabi sa amin ni coach, ‘Mas masaya ang All-Star kung manalo,’” Grey shared, talking about Ayo’s constant reminder to them.

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