COACH Aldin Ayo feels excited as he stares at the renewal of rivalry between two arch-rivals.
The dream matchup between the Green Archers and the Ateneo Blue Eagles will become a reality in three days.
“Of course, excited. I don't know why,” said Ayo after he and members of the Green Archers watched Isaac Go come up with big plays that lifted the Blue Eagles to a 69-68 triumph over defending champion Far Eastern University Tamaraws last Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
This sealed the much-awaited finals showdown of the two arch rivals for the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament this coming Saturday.
Ayo discussed his feelings just as members of the Green Archers practiced at the same venue right after the Ateneo-FEU game.
His excitement comes from something that’s he just realized as the importance of the event began to sink in.
Last year, Ayo was involved in the finals of 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association. He coached Letran to the senior crown against arch rival San Beda Red Lions.
This year, he is involved with La Salle’s age-old rivalry against Ateneo, and that’s something new to him.
This rare experience comes after he transferred to the La Salle camp a week after the Knights won the crown.
“During my first year in the NCAA, Letran and San Beda. It was a big rivalry. Now at UAAP, La Salle and Ateneo.
Ayo and members of the Green Archers watched as Go recovered from a bleeding nose in the last four minutes following a rebound battle with Prince Orizu.
And when the bleeding stopped, he made up for his momentary absence in the final seconds of overtime with a defensive play that lifted the Blue Eagles to a decisive win.
Ayo was impressed when he saw the 6’7” Go put his big hands in front of Ron Dennison who was making a field goal attempt after receiving a pass from Monbert Arong from outside the paint.
The Green Archers were observing closely as Dennison released the ball too late.
Dennison’s late shot kept members of the Tams from handing their coach Nash Racela a fitting present on his 45th birthday.
That basket found its mark, but the buzzer was already blaring and the Blue Eagles found themselves in the finals after four seasons.
Go, who had 12 points and 14 rebounds, made up for his brief absence on the floor after he was accidentally elbowed by Orizu in the nose in the last 3:30. He bled profusely afterwards.
The Green Archers had an interesting visitor during their practice.
Former Perpetual Help standout Bright Akhuetie was around.
Akhuetie, who left the Perpetual Help Altas squad after the Nigerian cager had a disagreement with coach Nic Omorogbe, watched the practice from ringside.
He was silent about his presence.
There are talks that La Salle wants him to come aboard.
Longtime rival Ateneo and University of the Philippines are also reportedly recruiting him.