La Salle coach Aldin Ayo said he had no intention of rubbing salt at rival opponents with some of his recent moves, particularly the use of five players with African or African-American descent during Saturday’s lopsided victory over University of Santo Tomas.
Ayo had decided to field Cameroonian star Ben Mbala, Fil-Americans Abu Tratter, Julian Sargent, and Jason Perkins and homegrown Mark Dyke with La Salle up by a huge margin during the final minutes of the 99-56 rout of UST, a move that apparently irked Tigers coach Boy Sablan.
It also sparked a mixed reaction from UAAP followers. Some described it as overkill, especially with the game already decided, while others gave Ayo a pass, saying it was a move to experiment with his talent-laden roster ahead of the more important games such as the Final Four, and likely the finals.
“I was criticized during the last game because of the five. I’m just doing my job,” Ayo told reporters after La Salle’s 95-66 win over University of the East last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. “Kung anu man ’yung decision ko dun, wala akong iniinsulto. Nagtatrabaho lang ako.
“I’ll make sure ’yung team ko may bagong nagagawa and may naachieve kami,” he added. “Gusto ko magkaroon kami ng impression na hindi kami small ball. We can go big, we can go small. Against NU (a 113-88 win last Oct. 19) we went small, wala naman kaming naririnig.
“I just want to explain my side na ginagawa ko lang trabaho ko. Gusto ko lang talaga manalo. Whatever it takes, kung mananalo kami na puro point guard ang nasa loob, gagawin ko ’yun. Kung pwede ko gawin ’yung utility namin maglaro, gagawin ko ’yun.”
Their recent win hiked the Green Archers’ record to 12-0 entering the final two games of the elimination round.
Should they emerge victorious in those matches, the Green Archers will be assured of an outright berth to the best-of-three finals, while leaving the three other Final Four teams to dispute the other championship berth in a stepladder phase.