Defense remains to be the key for Bicol Volcanoes head coach Aldin Ayo as he transitions to the pro ranks through the upcoming Chooks-To-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Invitational.
Although MPBL isn’t entirely new to Ayo who had a brief stint as Muntinlupa Cagers head coach back in 2018, the champion mentor admitted that the upcoming pocket tournament imposes a different kind of challenge especially with the league now turning pro.
“Different level kasi cream of the crop. These are the players that stood out when they are in college that’s why they reached this level, different approach but same system, they have to play within the system,” said Ayo during the MPBL draw ceremony where his Bicol was grouped with Jumbo Plastic Basilan, Laguna Krah Asia, Marikina Shoe City, and Makati FSD Blazers
Unlike his past stints in the collegiate ranks where he handled young and up-and-coming players, the pride of Sorsogon will have a number of seasoned veterans on his squad led by former Davao Occidental Tiger Mark Yee.
Former PBA players Mac Tallo, Chico Lanete, Raffy Reyes, and Mark Cruz will also be reinforcing the Volcanoes during the invitational where a P2 Million pesos cash prize awaits the winner.
Ayo stressed the importance of defense – a key ingredient for his championship success with De La Salle University and Colegio de San Juan de Letran — in a short tournament like the MPBL Invitational.
“I always tell them na they really have to provide what the system demands at the end of the day, we are going to compete and whatever needed to win they have to provide that,” said Ayo.
“Defense will always be our priority because for a game to be competitive and to have that high level, defense should always be there, offense comes second,” said Ayo who is also a 3×3 head coach for the Chook to Go team.
Fans will also see less of Ayo’s famed “Mayhem” system as he will try to manage the minutes of his players who are expected to play in consecutive games in the league’s tight 13-day schedule.
“We have I think two or three players who are on the latter part of their careers so we are managing them on how we’ll going to use them in practices and of course during the games,” he added.
“My system has evolved already. It’s about being unpredictable and it’s about playing as a team, it’s all about competing and hopefully we’re going to get good results.”