MANILA, Philippines – From the NCAA to the PBA D-League to the Filoil preseason tournament, Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson has always preached the same thing: Mistakes are allowed in his team.
But before his Pirates clinched a 20th straight NCAA regular season win dating back to the Season 93 opener, mistakes almost cost them the milestone victory.
Robinson's Pirates won against the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals,106-97, on Friday, July 13, to secure the record.
But that almost didn't come to fruition when, after leading by as many as 31 points, 72-41, Lyceum gave up an eye-popping 36-8 run to the Generals. That incredible run in the final 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter brought the Pirates' massive lead down to 3, 80-77.
But Jaycee Marcelino woke the Pirates from their slumber and scored 13 of his 24 points in the 4th to help regain the cushion.
With an ugly win like this, a head coach would usually waste no time berating his wards for their sloppiness. But that’s just now how Robinson works.
“Big win for us, guys played well,” said the mild-mannered tactician. “We kinda relaxed a bit in the 3rd, but again, we got away with the win. We’re happy.”
And his relaxed and tolerant demeanor has clearly rubbed off on all his players, as Marcelino echoed in the post-game presser.
“Nag-eenjoy lang naman kami sa loob ng court eh, nung pagpasok ng 4th,” said Marcelino. “Nag-enjoy lang kami. Nag-usap kami nina coach na 10 minutes na lang. Mas nag-extra work pa kami sa loob ng court para maibalik namin yung lamang namin.”
(We were just enjoying on the court entering the 4th. We just enjoyed. We talked with coach that we just have 10 minutes left. So we put in the extra work on the court to regain our lead.)
But Robinson did admit that he got nervous after EAC’s huge run, bolstered by returning big man Hamadou Laminou and sniper Jerome Garcia.
“Really sometimes you have to bite your lip,” said Robinson. “You have to trust your players that they’re gonna find a way. Kung paano kami lumamang at nagtiwala ako sa kanila, I have to trust them din na babawiin nila yung kalamangan.”
(With how I trusted them when we took the big lead, I have to trust them too that they’d get the lead back.)
“It’s always gonna be a two-way street,” he continued. “Kung ako yung nagpakita kaagad ng fear, or ng pressure, I’m sure [my players] are gonna do the same. So you have to be really calm and collected in making sure that the players [don’t] sense that you’re also worried.”
(If I gave in quickly to the fear or pressure, I’m sure my players are going to do the same.)
Clearly, the chemistry among the Pirates is still at an all-time high even after close calls like this one. Time will tell if the power of their bond can finally translate into that elusive NCAA title. – Rappler.com