There was a lot of pressure for coach Aldin Ayo and his La Salle Green Archers to make it to the finals and eventually win championship of the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament.
There was too much expectation as he was coming off a successful stint at the National Collegiate Athletic Association after taking the Letran Knights to the championship before shifting to the green jersey.
To unload the burdensome weights on their shoulders, Ayo taught his players to embrace and eat pressure for breakfast and conditioned their minds to the demands of the game.
“We just embrace pressure all season long,” claimed Ayo after the Green Archers fought their way to a 79-72 subduing of the Ateneo Blue Eagles in Game 2 on Tuesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
One of the team’s veterans and graduating player Jeron Teng ended his season and collegiate career with a bang.
Teng hit a career-high of 28 for the second time this season, and added only three rebounds as he then earned the Finals MVP.
“Nang pumasok sa finals against Ateneo ang team, the more na lumaki ang pressure. Sobrang tight ang game because of the rivalry. Siguro, ang bottomline dito ay basketball. Playing good basketball,” stated Ayo.
The 6’2 Teng lived up to the demands from him as the skipper of the team and made good his promise to help his team win their ninth championship this season.
Teng struck hardest in the first half as the Green Archers went on the attack right away. They nursed an early 10-7 advantage in the final six minutes of the first period.
With Teng hitting 10 points in the first 10 minutes, the Green Archers had little trouble moving away, 22-16, at the end of the period.
“Kung anong meron sila, kung anong meron kami, Yun ang makikita sa court,” stated Ayo. “Nang pumasok sa finals against Ateneo ang team, the more na lumaki ang pressure.
They nursed an early 10-7 advantage in the final six minutes of the first period.
For Ayo, this is a historic second crown, and after he coached the Letran Knights to an NCAA crown last season at the expense of the San Beda Red Lions.
The Green Archers ended the season with their historic ninth crown.
“I was not thinking about it (the championship). I just wanted to win the championship. Alam kong mahirap. Parating pressure. Magagaling ang mga coaches. Iba-ibang challenges yung pinapasok sa game. Kaso, mahirap. Kaya hindi na ako nag-iisip kung ano ma-accomplish. I just want to win the championship. That’s’ all,” added Ayo. La Salle went on to finished with a two-game sweep of their best-of-three series.