MANILA, Philippines -- Sean Chambers, one of the candidates for the vacant head coaching position at University of Santo Tomas (UST), is keeping the team's former coach, Aldin Ayo, in his thoughts.
Ayo resigned as head coach of the Growling Tigers earlier this month, in the wake of the controversy following the team's training camp in his hometown of Sorsogon.
It was just one of the many developments that have gutted the UST men's basketball program. Even before Ayo's resignation, players were already on their way out of the program, headed to other teams and even other leagues. One of the few remaining holdouts, reigning Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, left the team this week for De La Salle University.
Despite this, several coaches have expressed their desire to take over the position vacated by Ayo -- including Chambers, the former Alaska import who is widely regarded as one of the best reinforcements in PBA history.
Speaking on "Athlete's Tribune" earlier this week, Chambers said he wished Ayo the best, even after the circumstances leading to his abrupt exit from the program.
"I don't wish ill on anybody. We are all human and we all make mistakes and we can all learn from them," said Chambers.
"My wish is that he learns and he grows from this and he comes back a better and stronger leader," he added. "We want him to bounce back and learn from it."
Chambers does not know Ayo personally, having only briefly met in passing during a UAAP game a couple of years ago.
Nonetheless, the former Alaska import is hopeful that the coach will land on his feet.
"I really wish he'd bounce back and learn from this situation and be better, and be a better role model as well," he said.
Ayo is currently banned indefinitely from the UAAP, a sanction that he is appealing. It also remains to be seen if government agencies will impose sanctions of their own on Ayo and UST, after the Commission on Higher Education submitted a report on the university to the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
While the UST program is in limbo, Chambers believes he knows how to lift it up again and recreate the glory days of the Growling Tigers in the 1990s, when he used to watch their UAAP games upon the invitation of the late coach Aric del Rosario.
"We'll start first and foremost with the Tiger nation. You gotta come back to what they used to be about," said Chambers. "We'll talk to the alumni and the support staff, get the alumni to come back and be supportive of the program like they used to be in the '90s when I was there with Coach Aric."
UST has yet to issue an update regarding its coaching search. Aside from Chambers, other notable coaches applying for the job include Chris Gavina, Siot Tangquingcen, and Aris Dimaunahan.