For the last two years, coach Joe Silva and high school enigma Kai Sotto were able to create magic in the Juniors ranks. After a painful bronze finish in their first foray together, the duo were able to climb the top of the UAAP Juniors Basketball ladder — winning gold in Season 80.
As they say, however, all good things must come to an end.
Destiny then brought Sotto and his former prized ward together on Tuesday evening — but now on opposing ends, as Silva and the Red Warriors faced Sotto and the Gilas Cadets.
The best under-16 center in Asia still made sure to exchange pleasantries with his former mentor prior to the game.
“He approached me before the game, sabi niya, ‘Coach miss na kita.’ Sabi ko, ‘Miss na rin kita’,” Silva shared.
“Kakaiba yung feeling kasi last, last month coach mo siya tapos ngayon kalaban mo na.
“Siyempre na-miss ko rin si coach Joe. Ayos natalo ko siya. Hindi na kami [nakapagusap] kasi si coach Joe kapag natatalo naiinis talaga yon si coach kasi sobrang competitive,” added Sotto, who is just 16 years young.
Knowing the game of Sotto, Silva had one piece of advice for his Red Warriors.
“Sabi ko lang, pahirapan natin si Kai. Pero pahirapan natin, siyempre is easier said than done.”
Indeed, the task was too tough to accomplish, as the 7-foot-1 prospect had major impact on the Cadets’ 63-61 win.
Sotto anchored the Cadets’ defense in the last eight minutes of the game, while providing two scintillating dunks that fired up the upstarts. As the dust settled, Sotto ended up with an efficient five-point, three-rebound, and two-block outing in just 13 minutes of game time.
And Silva could not help but be proud.
“I know what other coaches feel being in the other side of things. Nararamdaman ko na anong presence ng Kai Sotto.”
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