The Pirates’ reached the finals last year, but are actually playing in the semis for the first time as they clash with the Knights in the NCAA Season 94 on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
“I guess what the benefit of playing in the Final Four is it gives us an opportunity, yung extra time to grow and learn. Again no guarantee of playing in the finals. Parehas lang ang level namin ng Letran and they’re really playing tremendous basketball right now,” said Robinson, whose team advanced to the Season 93 finals outright after an elims sweep.
“Sa amin kasi, the more opportunity for us na magawa yung what we preach and what we believe in the better it is for us. We’re about the vision of this school and what better way to test kung nasaan na kami than to play one of the best teams in the NCAA,” he added.
While Robinson and the Pirates got to play in the biggest stage of the NCAA last season, there would be no ‘playoff atmosphere’ to look back to for most of the Knights.
Save for Bong Quinto, JP Calvo and the recovering Jerrick Balanza, all part of Letran’s 2015 championship team, no player in the team has experienced playing in a semis game.
The Knights were a game away from making it last season, but got booted out by the San Sebastian Stags as they played for the final semis spot.
Jeff Napa is finally in the semis for the first time as Letran’s head coach, but their goals go beyond that.
“Last year medyo bitin ngayon kahit papaano di na nabitin, talagang siguradong papasok na kami sa final four. Pero di naman yun ang main goal namin. Kailangan namin dumaan sa butas ng karayom. We have to beat Lyceum twice, we have to be ready lang,” said Napa.
Seeing how his players react when playing a team that could beat them is one thing that excites Robinson.
“When you talk about our team, it’s about how we’re gonna face a tougher team this time na hindi guarantee na mananalo kami even if we play our hundred percent. It’s something I’m excited about,” said Robinson.
“I’m expecting a response of the players from the challenge,” he added.
Like Robinson, Napa will be packing in confidence, with Letran and Lyceum splitting their elims matches.
“Starting Wednesday kasi ang Final Four namin para pag dating ng Friday, finishing touch nalang ang mindset namin,” said Napa.
“Pag dating ng Monday, matutulog nalang kami sa bahay namin, at iisipin nalang namin kung ano ang kakainin namin sa championship yun yung mindset ng team e.”