These new-look UE Red Warriors promise to do one thing: ‘Palag’
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on May 23, 2018 04:48 PM
Alvin Pasaol and UE were less than a minute away from pulling off an upset over the Gilas cadets
Rebuilding University of the East found itself all even with the Gilas cadets with four minutes remaining last Tuesday.
And with 60 ticks to go, the Red Warriors were only down by two.
In the end, Philip Manalang’s game-winner try only hit the front rim and the final score read 63-61 for the national team.
Still, new UE tactician Joe Silva was nothing but proud of the fight they put up. “Of course, of course, positive ito. Ito yung mga talo na maganda kasi you learn from it,” he told reporters post-game.
He then continued, “For three and a half quarters, I told them we were sticking to the system and then that system made us lead. Then last five minutes, nagkanya-kanya kami so that’s what I told them lang – stick to the system, stick to what we do in practice, and we’ll be fine.”
Indeed, Recto was protecting an 11-point lead early in the final frame before the Gilas cadets got in their groove behind the defense and the energy of Kai Sotto and Vince Tolentino.
While they fell short of the upset in the end, Silva said UE could find solace in the fact that they may have very well proven everybody wrong. “I was satisfied because number one, they competed. I told them that nobody in this arena expects us to go toe-to-toe with Gilas,” he shared.
He then continued, “I always told them, just compete, let’s bring back UE Warriors basketball. Kung sino man yan, kahit saan mang venue, laban tayo, palag tayo.”
And all of that, considering the two-time UAAP Juniors champion coach has only been at the helm of his new squad for a little more than three weeks. “We’ve been practicing for only two to three weeks, but our effort was clearly there,” he said.
King Red Warrior Alvin Pasaol, who famously scored 49 points in a game last year, could only share the same sentiment. “Good fight nilaban namin, pero siyempre, Gilas yan e. Ang lalakas talaga nila,” he said.
He then continued, “Pero credit sa teammates ko, ginawa nila lagat ng effort nila for this game. Kitang-kita na ‘di kagaya last year na pag kalaban namin, malaki, magaling lang kami sa una. Ngayon, hanggang fourth quarter, naglaro kami.”
Pasaol’s pride for his team wasn’t just words either as after Manalang’s final try clanged off the rim and the final buzzer sounded, the former wasted no time in clapping his hands and yelling to his teammates, “Okay lang yan! Okay lang yan!”
Now, Recto could continue rebuilding with a morale-boosting close loss under their belts. “Okay na okay pakikitungo ni coach Joe pati ng mga assistant niya kasi tinuturuan talaga nila kami. Sobrang ganda ng system ni coach Joe kaya mas madali rin naming na-adopt,” their team leader said.
And in the end, this is just the first step in what Silva sees to be a long, arduous road back to the top. “What we’re trying to do here is change the culture,” he said.
If what they showed against the Gilas cadets is any indication, then UE is very well on its way to a culture change.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.