Mendoza: Ayo pumps principle in losing

Aldin Ayo isn’t only winning games for Converge. He has also begun winning hearts and minds—by losing.

How’s that again?

After piling up seven straight wins for an amazing 8-2 record in his first ever coaching stint in Asia’s first play-for-pay league, Ayo stunned everybody by practically playing to lose.

He did that before an unsuspecting Sunday crowd by benching Quincy Miller, his prolific import.

Result? NorthPort plucked out a free lift in the form of a 112-97 victory over Converge for the Batang Pier’s unexpected gift.

“We were expecting Converge to play with a complete line-up,” said NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio in Filipino. “Definitely, Miller’s absence favored us as it became easier for us to win.”

William Navarro starred for NorthPort with his 29 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, with Robert Bolick scattering 26 points. The duo helped erect sizable leads that went as high as 19 points.

Jarencio thoroughly savored the win as it gave NorthPort a safe 6-5 standing in the frenetic chase for slots to the next round.

And Converge’s loss slumped the team to an 8-3 count that, with one game left—against the dangerous Barangay Ginebra—somehow put in jeopardy Ayo’s bid to secure that coveted twice-to-beat bonus in the semifinals.

But he is undaunted.

“There are things that we cannot control,” said Ayo. “The worst finish for us is No. 4. We’ll be fine with that, as long as we fix our culture and preparations.”

That culture is the discipline-based Ayo principle: He is willing to lose if only to drive home a point. He benched Miller as punishment for coming in late for practice.

“He overextended his birthday celebration,” said Ayo. “He was late for an hour.”

Ayo has set a sterling example of how a coach should perform. Converge team manager Chito Salud couldn’t be prouder.

Without a doubt, Miller is Converge’s pillar of strength. Ayo doesn’t give a damn. To him, there are no sacred cows.

It is common knowledge that many PBA players constantly break practice protocols, ignoring call times and making it a habit to arrive late for practice.

Ayo has now taken the lead. May the rest take heed?