As the confetti and balloons rained on the floor of the Ynares Sports Center, Zark’s-Lyceum Jawbreakers head coach Topex Robinson simply shrugged — seemingly in utter disbelief of what they had accomplished.
“They did not give up.
“You’re not gonna die by losing this game. The journey isn’t just here — we just got to keep on moving forward,” the youthful tactician pointed out.
During their entire Aspirant’s Cup run, the Jawbreakers’ backs were against the wall.
The elimination round saw them battle through plenty of injuries, while their playoff fate was not in their hands. Once they made it, they had to overcome Foundation Cup runners-up CEU Scorpions before hurdling a veteran-laden Marinerong Pilipino Skippers squad.
If that was not enough, they were down 0-1 against the Che’Lu-San Sebastian Revellers in the Finals series. Then late in the third quarter of the winner-take-all Game 3, Zark’s-Lyceum faced a 14-point deficit.
That’s when Robinson told his Pirates to look at the crowd.
“I know that people are praying for us. I can see the energy from the people when we were down,” he recalled.
“I just told them, ‘You’re inspiring people. You’re not doing it when you give up. You just got to keep going and trust each other.'”
In a blink, CJ Perez and the rest of the Jawbreakers revved up the tempo of the game. In less than 10 minutes, the once 14-point lead turned into a 15-point advantage for Zark’s-Lyceum.
Over on the bench, Robinson simply beamed. It was as if he was a proud father seeing his sons succeed in a recital.
“Again, you have to have that relationship with them. Earlier I wasn’t a coach anymore, I was just a dad hoping and praying that they’re gonna do their best.
“Instead of blaming them, I just encouraged them. I told them if you lose it’s my head. But if you win, it’s all yours. That’s the sacrifice of the father,” he shared.
After turning heads in the NCAA and now sitting on top of the semi-pro ranks, the Pirates will now become the hunted instead of being the hunters. Still, Robinson believes that what they are doing is not something out of the blue.
“There’s no secret to our success. It’s all about loving and trusting each other. MJ Ayaay was making a mistake and I just told him, ‘I love you.’ And then he was okay,” beamed Robinson.
“Cause again love wins.”