MANILA, Philippines -- The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers gave their head coach a late birthday present on Wednesday.
Aldin Ayo turned 42 on Tuesday, and the next day, the Growling Tigers seized a crucial 84-78 triumph over the University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament.
"Di mo masabi na masarap kasi before ng birthday, talo," said Ayo, referring to their 72-58 loss to Far Eastern University last Sunday.
"Eto, belated, nanalo. I'm just happy that we got this one because this is a very important game."
The win kept the Tigers in the race for the second seed in the Final 4, as they are now just half a game behind UP with their 6-5 win-loss record.
Making the win sweeter was that Ayo's family was on hand to watch the game. Ayo has made no secret of the sacrifices he had to make as UST coach, including not being able to spend time with his children. Both of his kids go to school in Sorsogon.
On Wednesday, however, they were at Mall of Asia Arena to watch as Ayo and the Growling Tigers uncorked a 10-0 run to end the game and stun UP.
"Well, it's special because mga malalaki na, alam na 'yung pakiramdam ng nananalo," said Ayo of his children, 11-year-old Migs and 8-year-old Chelsea.
"I'm happy that they always tell me na, 'Daddy I'm proud of you.' Yung mga sacrifices, may resulta eh," he added.
Having his children close to him "eases the pressure," said Ayo.
"You work hard, then pag-uwi sasalubungin ka ng mga anak mo, so nagkakaroon ng peace of mind," he beamed.
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