MANILA, Philippines – Besides his basketball knowledge, La Salle coach Topex Robinson was also credited by his players for bringing the team closer together.
While emphasizing that they still have much to improve, the Green Archers had an impressive debut under Robinson after an 87-76 win over Far Eastern University Tamaraws at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.
Point guard Evan Nelle said much of the credit goes to Robinson, who was able to forge a strong bond between him and his wards.
“It started on Day 1 when the coach came around January. He got a feeling for everyone, we learned our roles, we trusted everyone and we had a close bond. We had a lot of bonding, overseas trips and preseason games that shaped our team into what we are today,” said Nelle, who had 15 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.
“But like I said, this is just the first game, it’s a long season. But we are happy where we are, but we are not satisfied.”
“It’s a carefree environment, we love each other, we have each other’s backs and I don’t think anyone from the outside can destroy this. So this is why I came back,” he added.
Robinson enjoyed his first UAAP match as he was pleased with the way the Green Archers played together.
“It is exciting. It’s so nice to see these guys, to see the fans cheering us on. I mean, we’re so grateful that we have a group of supporters who will really love you and hate you at the same time, and that’s part of it,” Robinson said after a winning debut.
“The pressure will always be a privilege and I’m just grateful to have those kinds of experiences that the rest of the coaches that came before me had.”
Despite the impressive victory, the former PBA veteran and coach admitted that they still need to grow in the long season.
“If you look at this, there is a lot of room for improvement, but that is true rule no. For us there is 1 central, namely that you always use your common sense. You know, since these guys are talented, we just have to let them speak. Trust that they will make the right decisions. What comes with that is also the wrong decisions, but that is part of our growth. We learn from our mistakes, we try to get better every day,” Robinson said.
“Just a reminder to everyone that this is a humbling experience for us and we always have to make sure that if you want to move forward, you want to grow together, so this is part of our journey together.”
Robinson will coach in his first clash between Ateneo and La Salle when the two fierce rivals meet for the first time this season on Wednesday.
“It’s all about us. You know, us and ours. We know who we’re going to play against, but we just focus on what we have and that’s us,” he said. “There is a lot of hype and a lot of stories behind it, but ultimately Ateneo is a worthy rival. That will never change. Coach Tab is a worthy rival, we will always compete against each other and again, it’s just an opportunity for me to get better, also learning from Coach Tab and Ateneo. But one thing is certain: it will be an exciting match that we will play and I am happy to be part of it.”