Coach Aldin says UST had to ‘go home’ to get back on track in UAAP 82

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 10, 2019 03:03 PM
Coach Aldin says UST had to ‘go home’ to get back on track
(Photo by Arvin Lim)

After a strong start to the season, University of Sto. Tomas cooled off and suffered two straight setbacks.

That was until the Growling Tigers bared their teeth and took out their claws once more in a dominant decision against University of the East last Wednesday.

Even though they won by 28 points, head coach Aldin Ayo said it was far from easy - especially as he himself admitted that they had ventured off course in the past three weeks or so. "Yung past games namin, grabe yung pressure sa mga bata. I told them kung paano tayo nag-start nung season, dapat ganun yung approach," he shared.

He then continued, "Kasi after winning two games and after our loss against Ateneo, all of a sudden, yung expectations, tumaas."

The Espana-based squad commenced its campaign with a 101-73 victory versus UE and then a 85-69 triumph over fancied University of the Philippines.

After those back-to-back wins, they then dropped a close 70-71 loss to defending champion Ateneo de Manila University.

And so, from flying under the radar in the preseason, UST opened just about everybody's eyes.

That actually wasn't a good thing - if their fiery mentor is to be believed. "It was difficult kasi mararamdaman mo sa mga bata yung pressure and actually, they because tight. Kahit yung mood sa practice, masyadong nakatutok e which is good sana, pero naapektuhan na yung approach ng mga bata sa laro," he said.

Indeed, from that promising beginning, the Growling Tigers only won twice in the next five games.

That is exactly why Coach Aldin reminded everybody on his team to just go back to basics. As he put it, "I just told them to lower your expectations sa sarili nila. Sabi ko nga, you go home - ibig sabihin, you go back to the basics."

He then continued, "Kasi all of a sudden, ang daming kumakausap sa mga bata e. Kaya paulit-ulit ako sa kanila na you go home."

The one-time NCAA and one-time UAAP champion coach then furthered that in tough times, he wants himself and his boys to remember and always think about their support system. "Ibig sabihin, you go back to the people na nandun sayo nung nag-upisa ka. Go home - talk to your family, talk to your friends, talk to your loved ones na hindi pa nangyayari 'to, kilala ka na e," he said.

With that, slowly but surely, UST went out of its way to return to its roots - meaning a way had to be made for the likes of Ilocano Rhenz Abando, Negrense Mark Nonoy, and Davaoeno Deo Cuajao to be with their families. "Paunti-unti, yung mga parents ng mga bata, pinapapunta namin dito sa Manila lalo na yung mga coming from the province kasi sila yung pinaka-homesick," Coach Aldin said.

And that goes not just for the players. "Even myself, pinapapunta ko yung mga anak ko muna kasi grabe rin, 'di ako makauwi so yun lang nakaka-release (ng stress) sa akin, yung makita ko yung mga anak ko," their talented tactician said.

Now, Coach Aldin is only hopeful that the Growling Tigers have set their minds straight for the stretch run of the season.

And as they tackle their playoff push head-on, Coach Aldin has but one plea for the black and gold's faithful. "Yung expectations of the whole community, biglang tumaas e and siyempre, mga bata, it affects them. Ako, pakiusap ko lang sa Thomasian community na I know is behind us, just taper the expectations," he said.

He then continued, "Rest assured that we're going to do our best. Going forward, lahat ng ginagawa namin para sa UST."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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