To say that the University of the East Red Warriors are currently suffering in the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament is an understatement.
In what has been a painful year for the UE, the Red Warriors endured their 10th loss of the season at the hands of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.
The result meant that, for the third successive year, UE have endured at least 10 defeats in the elimination round. It is a far cry from nine years ago, when the Paul Lee-led Red Warriors marched to the finals to prevent the Ateneo Blue Eagles from winning back-to-back crowns.
Such were the frustrations inside the UE camp after their loss to UST that head coach Joe Silva wasn’t the one who castigated the players, but school officials themselves.
“Isa lang sinabi nila – May mga players na nakikita (nila) na hindi binibigay ang lahat.
“Most of the players binibigay ang lahat when they step on the court, pero na-notice nila may mga iba, ‘pag pumasok (sa laro), they’re not engaged, hindi binibigay ang lahat ‘pag nasa loob ng court,” disclosed the two-time UAAP Juniors champion coach.
Silva was an exasperated figure throughout the game. If he wasn’t voicing his displeasure at the referees for calls or non-calls that went against his team, then he was annoyed at his players’ lapses which allowed the Growling Tigers to score basket after basket.
“Yun muna ang sinabi ng mga school officials. Sinabi ko lang sa kanila it will all boil down to the details, the discipline.
“Okay kami sa una tapos biglang after twenty seconds sa shot clock, ma-reboundan kami or magkakaroon ng lapse or ma-shootan kami. That’s what I’ve been preaching since I started, the discipline, yung focus until matapos ang play,” said the Ateneo alumnus.
The first-year collegiate mentor then noted how his players’ had failed to implement a scheme to stop UST’s veteran guard Marvin Lee, and how the referees failed to spot fouls that were made at Alvin Pasaol’s expense.
Ultimately, it all boiled down to the fact that this year is a precursor to better battles ahead.
“Like I said diba, coming into this season, we weren’t expecting to really win games, to compete. I just wanted to lay down the foundation for the system, for the future. Bonus na yung winning games. I thank the UE community for being patient and understanding,” Silva shared.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day so talagang step-by-step, process-by-process, we’ll get there sooner rather than later.”
And come Season 81, the Red Warriors will look to join the higher echelons of the league. Aside from their recruits who are waiting in team B, UE can expect 6-foot-9 Senegalese center Adama Diakhite from Diliman College to be an instant game-changer for the Red Warriors.
“We’re going to have more talented players next year but, of course, hindi pwede puro talent lang. (The players) have to mesh together. They have to buy into the system. We have to embrace each other’s roles,” declared Silva.
“But rest assured right after this season, three, four day break, gahol kami sa oras eh, we’ll go back to work again.”
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