MANILA, Philippines — Call it a prelude.
This Saturday’s UAAP will revive a rivalry featuring two collegiate champion coaches in Aldin Ayo and Jamike Jarin.
But even if we’re days away from it, the fireworks have already began.
National University’s Jarin, a rookie as a head coach, declared last Saturday that De La Salle University is a force to reckon with.
“They’re probably the best college team right now,” he added. “We need to ready ourselves for DLSU.”
The next day, Ayo responded: “Hindi pa kami naglalaro pero sinasabi na ni coach Jamike na kami ang pinakamalakas.”
“Everything that he does has a purpose. Kung sasabihin niya sa amin ‘yun noong offseason, wala akong iisipin doon na kung anu-ano. Pero kung sasabihin niya ‘yun ngayon, well he’s just competing.”
The two mentors will be carrying a back story that started when they were both in the NCAA. Ayo, who was then a rookie coach with Letran, won a title by dethroning San Beda, which was then mentored by newcomer Jarin. The latter eventually took the hardware back when the Knights tactician jumped to coach the Green Archers in 2015.
Both the Bulldogs and the Green Archers opened their Season 80 campaigns on a winning note over the weekend.
“He’s very competitive, and minsan nga, kung titingnan mo ang ginagawa ni Coach Jamike, he’s very creative eh. Matatawa ka na, ginawa niya pa ‘yun,” said Ayo.
“Especially ngayon, ‘yung sinabi niya sa inyo sa media. Noong una kong nabasa, natawa rin ako. Sabi ko, ‘Walang patawad ito. Kahit sa media, he’s trying to compete.’”
Jarin, who served as Norman Black’s deputy in Ateneo de Manila University’s multiple title runs, is expected to give the former champions NU a boost in their bid to return to the Final Four field.
But Ayo and his Archers remain as the favorites to win it all this season. So it’s just going to be like many of his games in the UAAP — another day in the office.
“Regular game lang parin naman,” the sophomore coach said. “Kaya lang, he does lots of things eh na he’s very unpredictable so pagtatrabahuin ka parin talaga ni Coach Jamike.”
The two teams will lock horns in the first game of the skirmish at the Big Dome.