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Ayo officially set to lead Tigers

UST cited Aldin Ayo’s discipline-based basketball program “that gives primary importance to the academic life of the student-athletes” and his desire to coach the Growling Tigers on a “modest salary scheme” as key reasons for his hiring.

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Photo courtesy of Richard Esguerra/ABS-CBN Sports.

It is official: UST has confirmed on Monday, Jan. 8, that former Green Archers headmaster Aldin Ayo will lead the Growling Tigers next season as the team’s new head coach, formally taking over the post left vacant by Boy Sablan after he resigned last November.

In a statement released on the official Facebook page of the Institute of Physical Education and Athletics, UST said it sought Ayo’s coaching services knowing that his contract with the Archers bound him to La Salle only until the end of 2017.

The University cited Ayo’s discipline-based basketball program “that gives primary importance to the academic life of the student-athletes” and his desire to coach the Tigers on a “modest salary scheme” as key reasons for his hiring.

“We in UST actively collaborate with individuals who can help us fulfill our vision to form student-athletes to become not only competitive in their chosen fields, but more importantly respectful of their competitors,” the statement read.

Last Jan. 2, Ayo took to Twitter to address reports of his exit from the Taft-based squad. The LaSalllian confirmed his departure the following day. Meanwhile, Ayo confirmed his move to España in a report by the Varsitarian last Jan. 5.

Ayo has played for the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, who won back-to-back championships in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1998 and 1999.

He was awarded NCAA Coach of the Year in 2015 after leading the Knights to another NCAA title. The following year, Ayo bagged a UAAP title for the Archers.

The Tigers amassed just four wins and suffered 24 losses in two full UAAP seasons under Sablan. Their dismal single-win record this season was their worst since 1989. The whole coaching staff, together with Sablan, were relieved from their duties effective Nov. 30.

Following Sablan’s resignation, Mario Bonleon and Renzo Subido are now gearing for their comeback after refusing to play for the Tigers this season (READ: Bonleon, Subido to return for Tigers after Sablan quits).

TomasinoWeb has sought Ayo for comment but he is yet to respond as of press time.

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Gritty Tigers swept by dynastic Ateneo despite putting up valiant effort

Even as they were able to go hold their own against the defending champs, the UST Growling Tigers were swept by the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 79-86, in Game 2 of the best-of-three UAAP season 82 men’s basketball finals at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay Wednesday, Nov. 20.

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Photo by: Christine Annmarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb

Even as they were able to go hold their own against the defending champs, the UST Growling Tigers were swept by the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 79-86, in Game 2 of the best-of-three UAAP season 82 men’s basketball finals at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay Wednesday, Nov. 20. 

Just like the opening game, Ateneo got off to a fiery start and outscored the Tigers 31-18 within the first ten minutes of the contest. 

The second quarter saw a low scoring affair with UST jumping out to an 8-2 run that cut down the Blue Eagles’ once 13-point lead to seven. 

Even with the strong showing from the Tigers which included outscoring the defending champs 14-11 in the canto, Ateneo still managed to bring a 10 point lead into halftime, mainly due to the efforts of Pat Maagdenberg and the graduating Thirdy Ravena. 

Both teams came alive in the third quarter, with UST posting 30 points and Ateneo with 25, which saw UST and Ateneo going mano y mano on the offensive end. 

UST was able to get as close as one point to open the fourth quarter corteousy of team captain CJ Cansino before a quick 5-0 spurt from Thirdy Ravena and SJ Belangel re-extended the lead to four. 

After a slow scoring affair throughout the duration of the quarter, the Tigers were once again able to get as close as four points with over a minute to play after a Sherwin Concepcion triple brought the game to 71-75. 

However, as UST was inching close to a comeback, Thirdy Ravena and Ange Kouame combined forces to quickly unleash a huge 8-0 blast that iced the game and secured the championship for them. 

Thirdy Ravena once again led Ateneo with 17 points and seven rebounds in his swan song. SJ Belangel on the other hand chipped in 15 points built on five triples. 

Outgoing team captain Matt Nieto had an efficient final game as well with 14 points on a 60% shooting clip, complemented by six rebounds and five assists. 

For the Tigers, Rhenz Abando had a 16-point effort, with nine of them coming in the Tigers’ high scoring third quarter. Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy poured in 14 points to complement Abando’s performance, while MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo had a double-double of 11 points and 19 boards.

With the win, Ateneo now caps off their dream season by becoming the first team in UAAP men’s basketball to complete a 16-0 sweep.

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Tigers fail to find answers as Eagles come alive to take Game 1

Playing their first game in over two weeks, the defending champs easily cruised to a dominant start, opening the game with an 18-4 blast led by Thirdy Ravena who scored 11 straight points for the Eagles to give his squad a 32-17 start. 

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Photo by Christine Annmarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb

The currently unbeaten Ateneo Blue Eagles showed no signs of rust as they easily snatched Game 1 of the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball finals over the underdog UST Growling Tigers, 91-77, held at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao Saturday, Nov. 16. 

Playing their first game in over two weeks, the defending champs easily cruised to a dominant start, opening the game with an 18-4 blast led by Thirdy Ravena who scored 11 straight points for the Eagles to give his squad a 32-17 start. 

The Tigers looked ready to close the gap in the second quarter when reigning rookie of the year Mark Nonoy came alive to spearhead a 19-3 run to cut Ateneo’s 19 point advantage down to eight. 

Ateneo however, countered with a 13-1 run of their own to head into halftime leading 54-39. 

Come the third quarter, the Eagles started to pull away further, once again being led by Thirdy Ravena who poured in 12 of Ateneo’s 22 points in the period. 

The fourth and final quarter saw a subdued scoring affair for Ateneo as they were held to just 15 points by the Tigers. 

Despite the Atenean masterclass, UST actually came close in quarter per quarter scoring, especially in the second and fourth quarters that saw them go 22-all against the Eagles and outscoring them 19-15, respectively.

Even with the loss, Coach Aldin Ayo stressed that the team won’t be heading into Wednesday’s matchup with tons of pressure and would focus more on the necessary preparations to extend the series.

“Not so much dun sa pressure eh. Magfofocus kami sa preparations, titignan, pag-aaralan namin yung laro kung ano yung kailangan baguhin don,” the champion mentor stated in an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb.

Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy had a herculean effort to lead UST with a career-high 26 points with 12 of those coming in his squad’s huge second quarter run. 

Brent Paraiso chipped in 14 points and reigning MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds to go along with Nonoy’s offensive outburst. 

For the Eagles, last year’s Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena went off with a game-high 32 points while Ivorian stalwart Ange Kouame had an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double. 

The two-way threat SJ Belangel also had 12 points on an efficient 4-of-9 shooting for the Katipunan-based squad.

Game 2 of the Finals is set to be played on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena as the Tigers attempt to bring the series to a decisive third and final game.

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Cansino more than happy as UST clinches finals berth a year after freak injury

For team captain CJ Cansino, this finals appearance means so much more considering how his super-rookie season came to an abrupt end in Season 81 when he went down with an ACL injury against the same opponent in the same venue and UST’s campaign went completely downhill as they lost their last four games without him in the lineup. 

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Photo by Christine Annmarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb

With their 68-65 win over the UP Fighting Maroons on Wednesday, the UST Growling Tigers are officially headed to the UAAP men’s basketball tournament finals after four long years to face the currently unbeaten Ateneo Blue Eagles this Saturday. 

For team captain CJ Cansino however, this finals appearance means so much more considering how his super-rookie season came to an abrupt end in Season 81 when he went down with an ACL injury against the same opponent in the same venue and UST’s campaign went completely downhill as they lost their last four games without him in the lineup.

“Sobrang saya ko. Kahit di ako naka contribute nang malaki, nakapasok naman kami ng finals. Iba talaga yung feeling pag pumapasok ng finals eh, dahil simula noong pumasok ako ng UST high school, pangarap ko na talaga ipasok ang UST sa finals,” Cansino quipped in an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb

Despite only scoring two points, Cansino managed to pull down eight rebounds for the España-based squad in the closeout game against the Maroons. 

“Di ko maexplain eh. Bigla nalang tumulo yung luha ko tas tinignan ko yung mga tao and gaano sila kasaya. Sobrang sarap sa feeling,” he added when asked to describe the feeling of a finals appearance.

Cansino and the rest of the Tigers will look to draw first blood against the Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles as they play game one of the finals on Saturday.

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