De La Salle University is peaking at the right time.
The Green Archers are on a hot five-game win roll that propelled them to a Final Four return in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.
Head coach Topex Robinson couldn’t be happier with his wards’ resilience despite a shaky start in the tournament and troubles with consistency under the system of the rookie mentor.
“I guess these guys were challenged during the times that we were struggling, you know, instead of them looking for other excuses, they just responded,” Robinson said after La Salle beat Adamson University, 69-57, Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“You know, they know how hard it is to represent DLSU. They know the struggles that they’ve been through. And what was important to us is we just kept our circle solid, you know, when we lost to Ateneo that first round hurt us but it also bonded us,” he added.
With Most Valuable Player award frontrunner Kevin Quiambao leading the way the Green Archers won five in a row including four in the second round for an 8-3 win-loss record at solo third spot.
Robinson also lauded his team for showing maturity and being on the same page to achieve a common goal.
“You know the time that we spent together sharing those struggles, you know, we bicker, we fight inside. They know that, I mean that’s the only time that we’re gonna learn and grow,” Robinson bared.
“I’m learning from them. Trying to be with these young men. And again, what’s important is we’re a united front, you know, we want to make sure that, you know, we’re gonna take the opportunity to always, always represent DLSU. And always strive to be the best versions of ourselves.”
La Salle made a return stint to the Final Four after missing the cut last year in a painful playoff loss to Adamson for the no. 4 seed.
However, just like Robinson, forward Mike Phillips downplayed the angle of getting a payback over the squad that denied the Green Archers entry to the next round last year.
“I would have said it was something like an act of revenge, but something I learned from coach Topex, and then the coaching staff, this year that kind of gets to your head, you know, then you really think it becomes personal, then you worry too much about the other team,” Phillips, who had eight points and 11 rebounds to back Quiambao’s double-double of 11 markers and 11 boards, said.
“And of course, we have to be prepared, but really focus on ourselves. And so, yes, they did not knock us out of the playoffs, but for this game… It was just another game today, we prepared just like any other game, and to really come out there and play our best and so I just gave us a really tough fight. We’re just happy to move on to the next game with the win.”
Lurking behind joint leaders and also semis-bound University of the Philippines and National University, La Salle is very much in the race for the Final Four twice-to-beat advantage.