Aldin Ayo
UST Tigers coach Aldin Ayo (UAAP)

Controversy did not escape the local sporting scene despite taking a standstill when the pandemic hit early this year.

Among those who have been at the spotlight was University of Santo Tomas men’s basketball team for its so-called “Sorsogon bubble.”

It all started when team captain CJ Cansino’s stunning departure from the Tigers’ den last August. A vital cog in the squad’s finals appearance in Season 82, Cansino said in a statement that the team management let him go.

On the same day, alleged photos and videos of the team doing scrimmages leaked on social media at the time where team training in amateur sports were prohibited during the pandemic.

Read: UAAP: UST Tigers coach Aldin Ayo breaks silence on CJ Cansino’s exit, training bubble

The issue has been the talk of the town for almost a month, with officials from the UAAP discussing the matter between various government agencies such as the tripartite group of the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusements Board, and Department of Health, as well as the Commission on Higher Education.

It also forced UST to form a fact-finding committee to investigate the issue.

The controversy later on prompted the resignation of UST Tigers coach Aldin Ayo, as well as the school’s athletic director Fr Jannel Abogado OP.

It also led to the departure of several key players. Ira Bataller, Brent Paraiso and Rhenz Abando left to join Letran, June Asuncion moved to Mapua, Mark Nonoy and Deo Cuajao went to La Salle, and Bismarck Lina joined Cansino in University of the Philippines.

After further deliberation, the UAAP slapped Ayo with an indefinite ban “based on the UST report that showed Ayo endangering the health and well-being of the student athletes under his charge when he conducted the training during a government-declared state of public emergency intended to arrest the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Despite these findings, the Sorsogon City Philippine National Police found Ayo “not liable for any health protocol violations” and that there were no prohibited basketball activities conducted in Ayo’s team bubble.

Read: Aldin Ayo: ‘Come to my house and farm in Capuy, Sorsogon, and see for yourself’

At the moment, Ayo’s appeal for his indefinite ban in the league remains pending and the UST is facing a rebuilding stage with almost half of the squad left and an interim coach in Jinino Manansala.

But with UAAP Season 83 cancelled due to the pandemic, the school would have more time to address these issues to come back stronger, hopefully when Season 84 opens on its target date of September 2021.

Source: Manila Bulletin (