Just last March, coach Joe Silva was raising his second UAAP Juniors trophy together with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets.
By May, Silva had already embarked on his latest and biggest venture as the new head coach of the UE Red Warriors. It has been a month since his appointment and the young mentor did not mince words on the transition to his new job.
"Well, it's been difficult. It's been good, but it's been difficult also," Silva said. "mainly because the program that I envisioned was supposed to be for seven months but since the UAAP is starting September, we have to cram everything."
Silva came in as a replacement for Derrick Pumaren who was with the Red Warriors for the last four years. After Pumaren's tenure, UE's head coaching job remained vacant since the end of UAAP Season 80. Multiple names surfaced in the last several months as a possible replacement for Pumaren including the likes of Koy Banal and Chris Gavina. After nearly half a year, UE finally found their man in Silva.
"Honestly I wasn't expecting this. I was really focusing on other stuff already," he said after departing from Ateneo in April. "Then UE management called me. Without batting an eyelash, we had a good talk, I grabbed it."
Silva was with the Blue Eaglets for seven seasons, taking the place of Jamike Jarin. Under Silva, Ateneo remained one of the top teams in high school basketball, amassing a 77-20 record in seven years, including two championships.
"A coach's dream is to coach at a higher level really. This is my chance. I might not get it again," he explained on accepting UE's offer.
From his successful tenure in Juniors basketball, Silva will have the daunting task of trying to revive the UE basketball program which hasn't tasted a Final Four berth since 2009. Just last season, the Red Warriors were only able to muster a 3-11 record, good for seventh place.
UE is currently competing in the 12th Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup presented by Chooks-to-Go in the hopes of gaining experience and to fast-track their team progress. And if there's one thing that Silva wants his new team to learn as quickly as possible, it's to be smart on the basketball court.
"The basketball IQ aspect. I think with all the games we've played we've shown that we can keep in step with most of the teams. Problem is the little things," he shared on what his team needs to improve on. "That missed block out there, that missed defensive rotation, the spacing, those little things add up. When they compound, that's like quicksand. You'll drown and then you can't get yourself out. That's what's happening now."
Fortunately for Silva, he will have the services of one of college basketball's best scorers in Alvin Pasaol. An offensive sensation, Pasaol averaged 20.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 1.6 assists last year and was awarded a Mythical Team selection. His best performance came in a 49-point explosion against the DLSU Green Archers.
"No complaints. It's been really okay. They're professional-like, business-like," Silva said about his team. "When we practice it's serious. Off court, play all you want, no problem with me."
From being one of the staple figures in Juniors basketball, Silva is ready to take on his biggest challenge in his young coaching career.
"When I started to take over, what I told them was to compete," he said. "Let's show that Warrior pride."