Lyceum of the Philippines continues to apply the lessons it learned from its former mentor, Topex Robinson, as it inches closer to the title of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 99 men’s basketball tournament.
Pirates coach Gilbert Malabanan admitted that he is still using the values imparted by Robinson during his four-year stint in the school from 2015 to 2019.
With Malabanan using Robinson’s playbook, the Pirates finished the double-round eliminations at No. 2 to gain the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four that starts on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
They will face third seed San Beda University while topseed Mapua University will tangle with College of Saint Benilde armed with a playoff bonus in the other Final Four pairing.
Malaban said they apply the lessons given to them by Robinson inside and outside the playing court.
“First, I have to understand each of my players. Second, you have to show their love for them regardless if they play or not. I have to show them equal attention,” said Malabanan, who trained the Pirates in Cavite from Friday to Sunday to stay focused on the upcoming Final Four.
“Of course, bigger than basketball is to have many players have a better future. That’s my goal in life as a head coach.”
Despite moving to De La Salle University, which will battle University of the Philippines in the best-of-three finals of Season 86 University Athletic Association of the Philippines, Robinson still cares for the Pirates.
In fact, the Pirates and the Green Archers trained together in the preseason, giving the likes of Enoch Valdez, JM Bravo, Shawn Umali and Mclaude Guadaña a chance to face Evan Nelle, Mark Nonoy, Mike Phillips and UAAP Most Valuable Player frontrunner Kevin Quiambao.
During Robinson’s coaching stint at Lyceum, Malabanan was part of his staff while Valdez was a bench player in a team overflowing with stars like CJ Perez, Mike Nzeusseu, and Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino. Robinson steered the Pirates to the Finals in 2018.
Malabanan said the players need to have a do-or-die mentality to avoid any hiccups in their bid to book a return flight to the Finals.
“I’ll be going to remind my players that this is a do-or-die game, not a twice-to-beat game. We don’t want to have another game,” Malabanan said.