MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) A couple of months after he was banned indefinitely by the UAAP, Aldin Ayo has found his way back to coaching.
Ayo, the former coach of University of Santo Tomas (UST), will take over as the mentor of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas team that will represent the Philippines in FIBA 3x3 tournaments.
Ayo was unveiled as the new coach of the squad that will now go by the name "Manila Chooks TM." The team still features four of the top players in the country -- No. 1 Joshua Munzon, No. 2 Alvin Pasaol, No. 5 Troy Rike, and No. 6 Santi Santillan.
The quartet, playing under the banner of Zamboanga City Chooks, recently ruled the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup.
"I'm very grateful because, for me, this will bring another dimension to my coaching career," he said as he was introduced to the players as well as Manila Mayor Isko Moreno inside City Hall on Monday afternoon.
"Throughout my coaching career, it was the full-length of the court, but this time will be different. I can't wait to try out new schemes for half-court," he added.
The 43-year-old succeeds Eric Altamirano who resigned from his post effective November 1 following a two-year run that saw the Philippines rise to contention in 3x3.
"Both parties are on good terms. We will still be working with Coach Eric in the future," said BAVI sports and marketing director Mel Macasaquit.
This marks a return to the spotlight for Ayo, who resigned from his post as UST head coach in September in the wake of the "Sorsogon bubble" controversy. On September 10, the UAAP banned him indefinitely from the league, after finding him responsible for the events of the "bubble" where the Growling Tigers were alleged to have trained in Sorsogon despite quarantine restrictions.
Despite his recent controversies, the chief backer of the country's 3x3 team had no qualms in choosing him to handle the squad.
"Coach Ayo is my personal choice," said BAVI president and 3x3 patron Ronald Mascariñas. "He is the most decorated coach in college right now and we are excited that he is now here with us."
Before coaching the Growling Tigers, Ayo first burst into the collegiate basketball scene by steering the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights to the NCAA title in 2015. He left his alma mater shortly after the NCAA season, jumping ship instead to De La Salle University. In 2016, he led a powerhouse La Salle squad bannered by Jeron Teng and Ben Mbala to the UAAP Season 79 title.
The Green Archers made another finals appearance in Season 80, losing to rivals Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, after which Ayo resigned and left for UST. After settling for a 5-9 record in his first season in charge, Ayo steered the Growling Tigers to a finals appearance in Season 82, where they lost to the Blue Eagles.
Ayo will not join Manila Chooks TM when they play in the Doha Masters of the 2020 FIBA 3x3 World Tour later this month. He is set to hold a formal training session with the squad before the year ends.
With Manila Chooks TM, Ayo reunites with Santillan who was a key cog in La Salle's 2017 team. He is also no stranger to Pasaol, whom he once tried recruiting for both Letran and La Salle. Ayo also coached against Rike back when he played for National University.
Munzon, for his part, once scored 46 points against Ayo's Ironcon-UST squad in the PBA D-League back when he was still playing for AMA Online Education.
Aldin Ayo, FIBA, FIBA 3x3, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3, Manila Chooks TM, UAAP, UST Growling Tigers