Matt Nieto would rather have Joe Silva on Ateneo's side
MANILA, Philippines – Matt Nieto could not help but feel sentimental after seeing former UAAP juniors mentor Joe Silva coaching at the opposite side of court.
Even after the Blue Eagles' dominant win over the UE Red Warriors on Wednesday, September 26, the Ateneo starting point guard would still rather have Silva on their side.
"I miss him, but I’m so happy for him," said Nieto of his former mentor, who's now calling the shots for the Red Warriors.
"Pero pag papapiliin ako, gusto ko coach ko pa rin siya. Dito siya sa seniors team namin kasi family talaga kami dito."
(If I were given the choice, I would still want him to be my coach. He should be here in our seniors team because we're a family here.)
Silva guided Nieto and several other homegrown Blue Eagles to two UAAP juniors titles before he was appointed as head coach of the rebuilding Warriors.
"Actually yung sinisigaw niya kanina kila Philip (Manalang), sabi ko parang ako lang ‘to noong juniors ah," recalled Nieto.
(Actually, when he was shouting instructions to Philip Manalang, I was saying that it was just like when I was in the juniors.)
"Iba yung feeling na parang siya yung nagpalaki sa ‘yo tapos iba na pala yung tinuturuan niya... Parang akala ko siya pa rin yung nagco-coach sa akin, naririnig ko yung boses niya eh."
(The feeling is different when you grew up learning from him, but then he's now teaching someone else. I thought that he was still coaching me because I was hearing his voice.)
Even for Silva – who's debuting in the collegiate level this season – the set-up felt strange but he kept his focus on the game.
"Weird siya, sobrang weird," said Silva. (It was weird, so weird.)
"For me, it was just a game but of course it was really weird knowing that you’re on the other side of things at the end."
But the familiarity between the Blue Eagles and Silva showed on the court as the Red Warriors forced Ateneo to 17 turnovers, and in some stretches, had scoring spurts.
Aside from Nieto, homegrown Blue Eagle Thirdy Ravena also felt proud of the achievements of his former mentor.
"I've seen him through the years develop as a coach, and now his hard work finally paid off," said Ravena of Silva.
"The job's not done for him, but he was able to get a team on a high level, the collegiate. Nothing short of proud for him." – Rappler.com