MANILA, Philippines – Seeing coach Joe Silva donning the colors of the UE Red Warriors will take some getting used to.
As the former Ateneo Blue Eaglets tactician that won twon UAAP juniors titles in a seven-year span, Silva rose to fame for properly handling a winning program that included future stars like Kai Sotto, Dave Ildefonso and SJ Belangel.
Now at the helm of the rebuilding UE Warriors with cornerstone piece Alvin Pasaol, he is now tasked to turn around a storied, but now languishing team that hasn’t cracked the Final Four in eight years.
Silva knows it will take some time, yet he remained tough on himself after his Red Warriors got drubbed by the UP Maroons.
“Me? [Out of 10, I'd rate myself at] four, three,” said Silva. “We lost, in a blowout, even. Rude awakening. That’s okay, at least I know I still have to work hard. Dami pang kakainin na bigas (Our team still has a long way to go)."
Despite the stark culture change, Silva is ready for the challenge.
“Off the bat, I said it was gonna be a struggle,” he told reporters post-game. “I never said that it was going to be easy. But I think it’s a challenge for me, and I welcome challenges. That’s the life of a basketball coach. That’s the nature of basketball, so this is a challenge for me and I welcome it.”
But even now, changes are starting to take place in UE, including shifting a lot of offensive focus off Pasaol, which Silva thought confused UP as they tied them up at halftime.
“We have to share the ball more,” he said. “In the first half, UP was having a hard time because they don’t know who would score. That’s why we had 10 [first half] assists. Second half, we just had 4, and the boys went out of control.”
Pasaol still led the team with 14 points, but four other Red Warriors scored at least 6.
Despite the loss, a champion coach like Silva knows there’s a lot more time to improve.
“Like I said, Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he concluded. – Rappler.com