Topex Robinson is in danger of losing another finals series in his collegiate coaching career.
Once upon a time, Robinson was the head coach of the LPU Pirates in the NCAA. He took the program from also-ran status to the cusp of glory in the Grand Old League.
Unfortunately, he ended up with no cigar.
During the NCAA Season 93 tournament, the CJ Perez-led Pirates swept the elimination round, 18-0 – only to lose in the finals to Robert Bolick’s San Beda.
It was a similar story in the succeeding campaign. The Pirates punched a ticket to the finals with a 15-3 record and a win against the Letran Knights in the Final Four.
However, the league suspended Perez in game one because he failed to notify it about his inclusion in the 2018 PBA Draft.
The Pirates were left with a mountain to climb and they suffered another finals sweep at the hands of the Red Lions.
Now, it is a case of the same old story again for Robinson. Under his mentorship, La Salle entered game one of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament finals against the University of the Philippines behind a nine-game winning streak.
Lasallians were very confident heading into the game, only for their team to be massacred, 67-97, by the Fighting Maroons.
Now, UP is one win away from winning the crown this Sunday.
“It really tasted sour,” said Robinson.
“Obviously, there are gonna be a lot of great minds telling us what to do but at the end of the day, we stick together as a group. Whatever happens, we’re gonna win together or lose together.”
Ever the optimist, Robinson wants himself and La Salle to simply move forward.
“Obviously, it really hurts everybody but we have to go through this. Winning a championship is not gonna be easy. I guess taking the easy route will give us this kind of result,” he said.
“Again, we have to go back trying to figure out how we’re gonna get our guys in a better situation to succeed. Again, just like what I said, it’s done and over with.”
Only time will tell if Robinson can arrest his personal record of losing in collegiate finals. He also failed to bring home the NCAA championship as head coach of the San Sebastian Stags before his Lyceum stint.
If it helps him, this is not the first time La Salle has been in this situation. The Green Archers have lost in game one of the finals eight times and managed to force a Game Three four times.
They won the 1999 and 2013 championships despite experiencing a losing start to both series.
All eyes will be on La Salle if it can repeat its past feats.
“We play Sunday,” said Robinson. “We know what championship basketball is about – we know what it takes. We just have to really be prepared for that and make real preparations for our game on Sunday.”