Ayo sees silver lining in finals defeat

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    WHO says reaching the Big Dance was an achievement for University of Santo Tomas?

    For Growling Tigers coach Aldin Ayo, losing in their best-of-3 finals battle in the 82nd UAAP basketball tournament against defending champion Ateneo was more crushing than not advancing to the Final Four.

    That defeat will only toughen up his squad in their bid to finally end a 14-year title drought next season, according to Ayo.

    “In a way (we overachieved) but I told the kids it is more painful to lose in the finals than not making it to the Final Four. I told them that na dumating kami dito, we need to make sure that we are up to it. Mas masakit ito,” said Ayo.

    “Pero ito iyong sakit na for sure na matututo kami. Next season madadala namin iyong experience namin this season especially sa nine rookies namin,” he added.

    UST was swept in the finals by the mighty Blue Eagles, who finished their season with a 16-0 record, capped by an 86-79 decision in Game 2 last Nov. 20. Ateneo drubbed the Tigers 91-77 in the series opener last Nov. 16.

    The Tigers wound up with an 8-6 record for fourth in the stepladder semifinals but ousted Far Eastern University and stunned fancied No. 2 University of the Philippines in the stepladder semifinals, where the Tigers beat the Fighting Maroons twice to forge a finals duel with the Eagles.