Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Opinion on Aldin Ayo’s transfer to UST

Opinion on Aldin Ayo’s transfer to UST
by rick olivares

I wrote this on the 30th of November, 2015: “The transfer of Aldin Ayo, former Letran Knight who led his alma mater to an incredible and most unlikely championship this past NCAA season over the heavily-favored San Beda Red Lions, to La Salle has been controversial to say the least. People from different sides of the spectrum bandy about arguments from opportunity to ethics.”

“Whether it was for money, opportunity, or a deal struck between each team’s officials as the rumor mill has it, one cannot begrudge another for moving. Everyone has their own concerns and their own ideas for their future. Furthermore, the move is a high profile one that can help Ayo’s career.”

“The sad thing is that Letran feels like they’re a victim of a heist. Maybe Aldin should have informed school management ahead of time instead of them learning about the possible move from others. But it’s done. The Dominicans, who showed an incredible amount of restraint and compassion, and Letran as a school, should take heart however that their team is one that knows all about impossible odds. They will be back for sure. Hopefully, after this, they take a long and hard look at their program and how it fares in this sea of change swirling around them.”

A little over two years later, Ayo has surprisingly left La Salle for the University of Santo Tomas.

And folks offer the same reasons – it’s his right and he has to do what’s best for him etcetera etcetera etcetera.

Here’s what we know. Ayo’s contract ended following the end of the season. There was an initial plan to move to UST but Ayo backtracked saying he’d stay with La Salle with the latter saying he was indeed staying. Come 2018, he pushed through with the move and said something on social media about differences. Once more, the Dominicans (who oversee now only Letran but also UST, have shown a great amount of compassion in allowing a wayward son to transfer albeit laterally.

I won’t speculate about those “differences” since no one wants to go on the record after Ayo reneged on his word. However, here’s what we have learned and can infer from the move.

UST has its first high profile coach since the end of Season 76 when Pido Jarencio was their head coach. There is nothing like having a championship pedigree coach because he knows how to win. And he has won with two schools in two leagues. Furthermore, a champion coach also attracts talent.

It is also good that UST will become even more competitive. That makes for a healthier league. Now if only the University of the East Red Warriors can get their act together…

Around December of last year, when word leaked that Ayo was moving to España, it galvanized the holdovers and returning Growling Tigers including some who opted not to play for their former coach. As a source said, they couldn’t wait to get started with their new coach. They even discussed fitness and conditioning. How’s that for a noticeable difference! Prepare for the big bad Tigers, UAAP. Competition is coming.

Now unlike the move from Letran to La Salle that had a title team in the making (not to mention the core had won a championship three years earlier), this UST team is down in the standings and has struggled the past couple of seasons. Their standing isn’t indicative of their talent. They have the personnel to get better and to compete. Ayo will further toughen up this team that isn’t averse to physical play. In fact, in a pre-season match versus DLSU the previous year, they didn’t back down from the Green Archers’ physical style. I am sure, Ayo respects those that do not back down.

And now, the Larry Brown of Philippine coaches (a nod to the nomadic American tactician who never seems to stay put anywhere) is at UST. Whoa boy. Having said all of this, it would be interesting to watch when Ayo’s Growling Tigers take on the Green Archers.

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