UAAP 81's must-see matchup? La Salle-UST and here's why

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 02, 2018 06:50 PM
UAAP 81's must-see matchup? La Salle-UST and here's why
Coach Aldin Ayo, now of UST, and new La Salle mentor Louie Gonzalez go way, way back

The most anticipated matchup in the 81st Season of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament is not Ateneo-La Salle, is not FEU-Ateneo, is not Adamson-Ateneo, and is not Ateneo-UP.

Actually, the most anticipated matchup in the tournament is De La Salle University versus University of Sto. Tomas.

For the very first time, new Growling Tigers mentor Aldin Ayo will be up against the Green Archers side he had led to a championship and to a runner-up finish the last two years.

True to form, though, coach Aldin played down the hype heading into that matchup scheduled for Wednesday at the MOA Arena. “Well, it’s just a regular game,” he told reporters.

Right after, however, even the multi-titled mentor could not discount the personal color of that upcoming game. “First time ko makikita nang personal yun. ‘Di ko pa nakikita yun so that will be interesting,” he shared.

Coach Aldin was referring to now-La Salle head coach Louie Gonzalez whom he had worked with for nearly two decades before going their separate ways.

Back in 2001 when Ayo was still playing in the NCAA, Gonzalez was one of the assistant coaches in that Colegio de San Juan de Letran team.

Fast forward 11 years, Ayo and Gonzalez, now with Glenn Capacio, made waves as a trio in the Jr. NBA. They also had a short stint for Kia (now Columbian) in the PBA.

Their biggest break came in 2015 when they led the Knights to a magical championship. A year later, they guided the Green Archers to a dominant title and the next season, a runner-up finish.

Safe to say, coach Aldin and coach Louie, along with coach Glenn, go way, way back.

This year, though, Ayo decided to move to Espana and now has former player Mcjour Luib as his most tenured lieutenant. On the other hand, Gonzalez and Capacio remained in Taft Avenue.

For his part, Coach Louie also said that La Salle-UST will be nothing but interesting. “It will be interesting kasi doon mo makikita kung paano kami as coaches. Pareho kami at alam na alam namin yung ginagawa nang bawat isa,” he said.

Yes, for the Green Archers’ mentor, the matchup is must-watch because of the game to be played – and not the ones calling the shots for either side. “This is the first time we’re gonna play each other since yung nangyari. Ako naman, since nangyari ito, I know this is just part of our job. Aldin and I are professionals,” he said.

He then continued, “Tulad ng sinabi ko (dati), along the way, we know na mangyayari na maghihiwalay kami. It happened now, pero ako, I respect Aldin and alam ko namang he has the same for me.”

In the end, coach Louie reiterated that all of this is just a job and outside the court, their relationship remains. “Siguro, it so happens lang na magkabila na yung bench namin, pero sa akin naman, wala yun. Same with him,” he said.

He then continued, “Magkakilala kami, magkaibigan kami, actually, magkumpare kami. all of this, we know, is just part of the job.”

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