By Jerome Lagunzad
(The Arena, San Juan City)
12 noon – Mapua vs JRU (Jrs)
2 p.m. – Mapua vs JRU (Srs)
4 p.m. – San Sebastian vs Arellano (Srs)
6 p.m. – San Sebastian vs Arellano (Jrs)
Lyceum coach Topex Robinson is pleased to see how the Pirates continue to handle the success that they’ve been having in the 93rd NCAA seniors basketball tournament.
And he won’t be surprised that his wards can do the same if and when they get jolted back to their senses, with the pressure of becoming just the second team in league history to complete a remarkable 18-game sweep of elimination round further building up.
“It’s always about doing our very best,” Robinson stressed on Friday night after Lyceum fended off Letran’s fightback and scored an 81-69 victory that stretched its winning streak to 16 matches at The Arena in San Juan City.
“If we play our best and still lost the game, it’s something that we should be proud of. I was mad at them when we won, and we didn’t give our best. It’s not about winning and losing, it’s how we always play, how we always try to inspire others.”
For sure, most have been getting inspiration from how the Pirates continue their transformation from being one of the usual lightweights into genuine title contenders just on Robinson’s third year at the helm.
Already assured of a twice-to-beat bonus in the Final Four, Lyceum could make its path to a breakthrough title easier if it can repeat over Jose Rizal University on Friday and defending champion San Beda on Oct. 19.
Two more victories by the Pirates will give them an outright berth in the finals where they will also be armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage. The Red Lions completed such impressive trick in 2010.
However, Robinson is not looking that far ahead. “Actually with everything I feed my mind, I tell my players, ‘Sweeping the regular season doesn’t give you a championship,’” he said.
“There’s still a lot of basketball to be played. I’d rather win the championship than sweep (the eliminations). I wanna make sure we continue to be hungrier. Obviously everybody’s talking about it but we don’t have control of that.
What we have control is to keep ourselves hungrier. To keep ourselves focus on our goal, in our vision.”
Even star guard CJ Perez, one of the top candidates for this year’s MVP plum, admitted that themselves—and not their rivals—remain as the Pirates’ biggest foes.
“Kami pa rin naman talaga magdidikta kung hanggang saan ang kaya naming marating. Kaya dapat lagi kaming ready at ‘wag maging kumpiyansa,” said the shifty guard who’s been considered as the biggest reason behind the Pirates’ strong assault.
Robinson echoed Perez’s sentiments, saying: “These two games are gonna be tough for us. But we always try to improve. It’s always about us. Kalaban namin all the time is LPU – not San Beda, not JRU, not the other teams. It’s always gonna be LPU against LPU.”