WHAT IF... Aldin Ayo stayed in Letran
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 15, 2020 04:49 PM
Aldin Ayo and Mcjour Luib would not have had one year apart if the former would have remained inside the Walls of Intramuros
History lesson: Aldin Ayo won back-to-back championships with two different teams in two different leagues.
As a fresh-faced first-time head coach in the big leagues, he energized alma mater Colegio de San Juan de Letran all the way to the promised land in NCAA 91.
Just months later, he then steered De La Salle University's Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng-led juggernaut to the UAAP 79 title.
And so, Coach Aldin is one of the few coaches who could claim to have championships in the Philippines' top two collegiate leagues - and, most probably, the only one who could claim to have done it in succession.
If there was one school and one squad where the youthful mentor would be a perfect fit, though, it could be argued that would be the Letran Knights.
For one, Intramuros had been his home in his collegiate days.
For another, the blue and red, despite having the second-most championships, actually enters each and every season as far from the favorite - that tag, more often than not, belongs to modern-day dynasty San Beda University.
And what is Coach Aldin if not the ultimate underdog - a Sorsogon native who thrives on proving himself and proving doubters wrong.
With that, let us try putting him still at the Letran bench for their title defense.
Despite being the one sitting on the throne, they still would be far from the favorite as they would have lost Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal just as the Red Lions were getting Robert Bolick while Arellano University had Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado a year wiser.
Still, "Mayhem" would remain in place - meaning they would not have to adjust to a new philosophy just like what had happened in the real world with new coach Jeff Napa.
Even more, Coach Aldin would just unleash Rey Nambatac while also giving bigger burdens to Jerrick Balanza, Mcjour Luib, Bong Quinto, and Jom Sollano.
Just as well, he would have had brought new recruits as determined as him to prove themselves.
And with all of that, the Knights would have no problems whatsoever making it back to the Final Four - only this time as the third-seeded team following one-seed San Beda and two-seed Arellano.
Matched up with the run-and gun Chiefs in the Final Four, they would be able to keep up and even triumph in Game 1.
In the do-or-die Game 2, however, they bow to a side that, quite frankly, was the strongest on paper as it was led by, hands down, the best point guard in college in Jalalon and the most overqualified backup in Salado.
The Finals then plays out just how it played out - with the Red Lions reclaiming the crown.
In the end, Letran still falls short in its title defense even with Coach Aldin remaining at the helm.
Nonetheless, there stayed order to all their "Mayhem."
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