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    Coach-player bond the foundation of Pirates rise to relevance, says CJ Perez

    Jun 15, 2020

    COACH Topex Robinson himself helped CJ Perez pack his bags and move from Ateneo to Lyceum after a short stint with the Blue Eagles.

    It turns out, the Pirates mentor didn't really need much effort to woo the 6-foot-1 slasher to Intramuros.

    "Pinakain muna ako ng madami," the Terrafirma guard shared with a hearty laugh in his guesting on The Prospects Pod.

    Perez only spent a year in Katipunan after falling short of the academic requirements for Ateneo student-athletes, which paved the way for his reunion with Robinson.

    "Nung nawala ako sa Ateneo, siya ang unang tumawag sa akin at pumunta ako ng Lyceum kaagad. Madaming tumatawag sa akin, mga limang schools sa UAAP. Tinanong ko si coach Topex anong gagawin ko dito, sabi niya tara kain tayo. Pinakain niya muna ako bago kinuha sa Lyceum. Sabi ko na lang, 'Sige coach, sa iyo ako lalaro."

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    Aside from that hearty lunch, what made Perez firm in his decision to go to Lyceum is the relationship he has built with Robinson during their San Sebastian days.

    "Sa Baste pa lang, siya na ang unang kumuha ng number ko. Iba din kasi yung relationship namin ni coach Topex kasi since day one talaga, natuto ako sa kanya," said Perez, from Bautista, Pangasinan.

    He has considered Robinson a second father and the bond was evident as their partnership ushered in a new chapter for the Pirates, rising from the cellar to title contenders.

    With Perez, Lyceum completed a rare 18-0 elimination sweep in NCAA Season 93 in 2017, earning MVP honors, as the Pirates made a breakthrough finals appearance.

    The Pirates earned a return trip to the titular duel, but that also ended up in a bridesmaid finish behind San Beda.

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    Perez said that those milestones wouldn't have been achieved if not for the trust between him and Robinson.

    "Minsan nga nag-aaway pa kami sa dugout o sa laro," the 26-year-old said. "Ganoon kami ka-close kasi alam kong nagtitiwala talaga siya sa akin pagdating ko ng Lyceum kaya lahat talaga ng pawis, binigay ko sa kanya para makapag-finals kami."

    "Basta maibigay ko yung panalo para sa team, hindi naman dahil sa akin lang. Pero yung mga teammates ko kasi kapag cruical na dikit ang laban, sinasabi na ng mga coach sa akin na kunin ko na yung bola. Ganoon yung tiwala nila sa akin."

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