DON'T expect Lyceum to issue a protest anytime soon.
Pirates coach Topex Robinson made that declaration despite his side drawing the short end of the stick in a controversial 80-79 defeat to Letran on Friday.
"Nobody even talked about putting the game under protest. That’s just a waste of time," he said, surrendering to the idea that in this duel, the Knights were the better team. "We could’ve blown them out, but they stuck there and beat us."
Jaycee Marcelino tied the game at 80 with 40.6 seconds left before both sides traded empty possessions as the game seemingly went to overtime.
However, upon further review, he stepped on the three-point line as the officials downgraded the basket to just two points, giving Letran the win and Lyceum only its second defeat of the tournament.
Even Marcelino expressed doubts if he did indeed step on the line, saying that all he wanted was to knot the score at 80 in the final minute.
"Hindi ko alam eh. Tinira ko lang," he said, while also saying that had he known his previous shot was just a two, he would've driven to the basket rather than settle for a three in the closing seconds of the game.
"Papasukin ko yun kasi lamang sila ng isa. Pero hindi naman natin alam, di na natin kontrolado yung nangyari."
Marcelino, however, agreed that Letran is for real and it shouldn't come as a surprise that it gave Lyceum a hell of a fight in this duel.
"Malakas talaga ang Letran. Ang lalaki nila kaya nahirapan talaga kami sa kanila. Siguro nagkulang lang din kami sa depensa, pero ganun naman talaga. Alam naman namin yun," he admitted.
Robinson also shielded his players from the blame and took responsibility for the setback, acknowledging that he should've done a better job in protecting the Pirates' 10-point lead, 66-56 with less than three minutes left in the third period.
"I did stupid decisions. The reason that we lost to Letran is first, they’re better than us and second, I was outcoached by coach Jeff (Napa). That’s really the game," the always classy bench tactician said.
Robinson is also optimistic with the character he has built with this Lyceum team, that unlike other teams, his side is mature enough and is well-equipped to bounce back coming off deflating defeats like this.
"If we have to go through that, we have to stick together wherever we’re gonna be. I believe in my players. They’re just wonderful kids that need somebody who supports them all the way. The reason that I know they’ll be okay is we have a culture that loves, serves, and cares. Winning is not gonna be the endgoal of this team. It’s about making sure that they’re gonna be players who will grow. Sabi ko nga sa kanila, we will never be defined as a team just because we lost to a better team this afternoon. We will be defined by how we’re gonna finish this season and the season after," he said.
"At the end of the day, there’s so much basketball to be played and we’re excited for the opportunity because this kind of experience just keeps on binding us together as a team. This experience is something that’s gonna make us sharper as a team. They know that what doesn’t kill them makes them stronger. Whether they like it or not, we’re gonna be in the Final Four and we’re so grateful for that. We’re excited for whoever it is we’re gonna play."
Marcelino shares the same sentiments, saying: "Marami na kaming lessons na nakuha sa dalawang talo namin. Mas magpupursigi pa kami para maipanalo yung dalawang games. Hindi naman nawala yung samahan namin. Together pa rin talaga kami."