Mendoza: Converge continues to shine

Converge keeps winning, suddenly making the new kid in town an instant star. The team is proving to be of sterner stuff than what pundits had labeled the newbie earlier: A bungling novice bent to learn the ropes first as all greenhorns should.

But no. Aldin Ayo, the innovative coach with credentials credible enough to make him an immediate rock star, has done wonders to turn Converge into a title contender this early.

Ayo’s bewildering, if not bewitching, style of coaching has given his FiberXers another win last Sunday—a 77-71 dumping of Blackwater Bossing at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

That gave the Dennis Uy-owned rookie squad from Clark, Pampanga, a stunning fourth straight victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup that even threw Ayo in disbelief.

“We haven’t thought about it,” said Ayo, whose Converge is now at 5-2, win-loss record for a brilliant third place in only the squad’s second conference after a forgettable stint in the Philippine Cup under hard-luck coach Jeff Cariaso.

Ayo’s five victories include smashing wins over powerhouses San Miguel Beer and TNT, with the FiberXers’ 130-117 rout of the Tropang Giga also becoming a hot topic of conversation if only because Ayo’s boys buried 21 amazing threes to set a conference record.

But amid the early praise heaped on Converge, Ayo, who boasts of owning coaching titles in the UAAP (La Salle) and NCAA (Letran), remains humble and focused on what lies ahead.

“We just have to take it one game at a time, because we’re still in the process of establishing our system,” said Ayo, whose boys are behind the 6-1 Bay Area Dragons and the 5-1 Magnolia Hotshots. “My boys already have the idea of what to do, but I tell them that knowing is not enough... We’re still not in the state of ‘mastery’ and we still have a long way to go.”

We will know how far Converge can go as it prepares to face NLEX, Phoenix, Rain or Shine, NorthPort and Barangay Ginebra in its remaining five elimination games in the 13-team series that will advance the Top 8 to the next round.

“It’s about executing our system,” said Ayo, who is also lucky to have former PBA Commissioner Chito Salud as his team manager. “We have to be the best in doing it.”