By: Ohmer Bautista
Newly-appointed University of the East Red Warriors head coach Joe Silva received a rather harsh welcome to the world of college basketball.
After serving at the helm of Ateneo Blue Eaglets for almost seven years, and steering the team to two championships, his illustrious coaching stint in the Juniors division did not translate well to his first game as the chief tactician of the UE Men’s Seniors Basketball program.
Saturday afternoon, in the tiff between the Red Warriors and the stacked University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, his Recto-based squad absorbed a 29-point drubbing from the Juan Gomez De Liano-led Katipunan team. After the game, the former Eaglets coach pointed to their dismal transition plays as one of the culprits of their defeat.
“We cannot accept this: 25 fast break points,” Silva rued moments after their 58-87 loss.
But among others, Silva confessed that his lack of a foreign reinforcement also contributed to their downfall against a State U backstopped by the towering Bright Akhuetie.
“The problem is nga, again, our disparity because we don’t have foreign student-athlete,” he lamented. “Ever since naman weakness namin was our bigs because of the other foreign student-athletes, so we’re trying to understand.”
Still, despite a clear handicap in a tourney filled with talented foreign student-athletes, the bench strategist shared that his all-Filipino lineup will have the edge in efficiency, unselfishness, and speed.
“Well, at least, turn over wise, we didn’t turn the ball over that much,” said Silva, referring to UE, who were a turnover short of UP’s 15. “We just have to share the ball more. In the first half, UP was having a hard time with us kasi ‘di nila alam kung sino sumo-score eh. Pinapasa namin yung bola, that’s why we have 10 assists (in the first half).”
With a high-volume scorer in Alvin Pasaol and a crafty playmaker in Philip Manalang – among others – UE’s offense is already a legitimate threat to the league. But coach Silva believes that incorporating a defensive mindset to a system which hinges on offense would do wonders for his beleaguered team.
“Kung kilala niyo naman ako, talagang defensive coach ako eh. I feel that their offense will flow and will come if we play defense,” he shared.
When asked about how he assesses his first collegiate game as a coach, he shared:
“Siyempre four o three. Talo eh, tambak pa eh, diba?”
Amid that, he shares that he is embracing these challenges, and will take it in stride, as he believes that it will pay dividends for his and his team’s success in the long run.
“Off the back naman, I said it’s going to be a struggle. I never said it’s going to be easy. I think it’s a challenge, and for me, I welcome challenges. That’s the life of a basketball coach. If you win, magaling ka. If you don’t, ganun talaga, that’s a stage in basketball,” he declared.
“It’s a sign for me, and I welcome it.”