By Jerome Lagunzad
There is more to defending champion La Salle’s struggles in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament than what meets the eye.
According to an unimpeachable source, there’s a brewing tension over at the Green Archers’ camp, with some top supporters already expressing their displeasure over how coach Aldin Ayo is handling the squad – not just on the court, but off of it.
While Ayo continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of top benefactor Danding Cojuangco, who personally wooed him out of Letran two years ago, some quarters have already been plotting their plans of moving to a different direction.
More than the success, the disgruntled La Sallians appear to be more critical of how Ayo has struggled to act as “a role model” for the Green Archers after getting embroiled in a pair of controversies on his first two years at the helm.
Eyebrows were initially raised last year when Ayo was ejected after trying to put a pair of eyeglasses on a game official following a non-call during a loose ball play in the course of La Salle’s 84-78 victory over University of the East.
Then things turned from bad to worse – particularly on Ayo – when the Green Archers figured in a full-blown brawl against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws during an invitational tournament in Davao City less than two months ago.
“A growing number of people in the community could not accept the fact that they can attain success by damaging the character and the value that La Salle is trying to impart as an institution,” said the source who is privy to the development but spoke to on condition of anonymity.
“Feeling nung iba, bumababa ang tingin sa La Salle ngayon dahil sa mga nangyayari. Siyempre ‘yung prestige ang talagang pinagkaka-ingatan sa La Salle, lalo nung mga accomplished professionals.”
Tension picked up steam when Anton Altamirano, son of former National University tactician Eric, was named as coach of the Green Archers’ Team B after La Salle suffered a stunning loss to University of the Philippines two weeks ago.
Interestingly, Eric Altamirano, who helped the Bulldogs end a six-decade losing spell by winning the UAAP crown in 2014, handled Flying V Thunder, composed mostly of former La Salle players led by Jeron Teng, in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
Flying V is owned by Raffy Villavicencio, one of the Green Archers’ top supporters.
Tempo tried to get the side of Ayo through text to no avail.