UAAP Basketball

Champ at last: Topex Robinson ends ‘runner-up curse’ with La Salle

Philip Matel

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Champ at last: Topex Robinson ends ‘runner-up curse’ with La Salle

FIRST-YEAR HIGH. Coach Topex Robinson gets a victory ride from the La Salle Green Archers.

UAAP SEASON 86 MEDIA TEAM

‘This is my first championship as a college head coach after so many tries, and you just don't want to give up,’ says coach Topex Robinson after winning a UAAP championship right on his debut season with the La Salle Green Archers

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time ever, coach Topex Robinson is a collegiate champion.

After falling short with San Sebastian and Lyceum in the NCAA, and even lagging 0-1 against UP in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball finals, the former PBA defensive stalwart called into question his vocation.

“This is my first championship as a college head coach after so many tries, and you just don’t want to give up. You know, when you doubt yourself and you don’t have the courage to move forward,” Robinson said after La Salle’s 73-69 series-clinching Game 3 win against UP.

“You know that there’s somebody behind you. You know, these guys are really giving me the courage to move on even if I’m questioning myself. That first game loss was really challenging for me,” he added.

“It kind of asked me if I’m really here, if I’m really for coaching, but every time I see these guys, it gives me the courage to move forward… because I draw my strength from them.”

In the NCAA, Robinson also had stellar runs with San Sebastian and Lyceum virtually all season, only to fall short in the finals series.

But La Salle’s title romp ended his so-called “runner-up curse” as Robinson also became the fourth first-year head coach in La Salle history to win the title after Franz Pumaren (1998), Juno Sauler (2013), and Aldin Ayo (2016). 

La Salle finished the eliminations and the Final Four scorching hot with a nine-game winning streak before heading to the championship series, where they got dealt with a 30-point humbling by UP, 97-67, in Game 1.

After a players’ only meeting, the Green Archers clapped back to force a winner take-all with a 20-point beatdown of the Fighting Maroons, 82-60.

In Game 3, the Green Archers trailed by as many as 9 midway through the second period, but managed to reclaim the lead in a pivotal end-game rally.

“I cannot explain [how I feel right now]. Everything is still not really wrapped in my head,” said Robinson.

“I just want to make sure that, you know, I’m not letting any day pass by without us being focused on what’s in front of us and, you know, credit to UP, they really, really pushed us to the hilt and really [challenged us] down to our core,” he continued.

“I cannot put the words you know the feeling right now but I’m just so grateful and honored and privileged to be part of DLSU.”

After attending a DLSU ring ceremony honoring the 1998-2001 and 2016 championship teams, the 2023 Green Archers will also have their very own ring ceremony. — Rappler.com

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