TOPEX Robinson has frequently mentioned CJ Perez as a "blessing" to him, being the most important piece of the puzzle in his now-proven program in Lyceum.
An even though they failed to win a ring in their two years together in the Pirates' lair, Robinson remains proud of what they have achieved and where that will take Perez in his basketball career.
"We're gonna produce a legit first-round, first pick. That's where we're excited about. Yung blessing ng CJ sa amin is really huge for our program. Ang laking bagay noon and now, we could say that we're a legit title contender," the soft-spoken mentor said at the conclusion of the NCAA Season 94 Finals on Monday, where his side once again finished runner-up to San Beda.
Columbian Dyip have bared their intentions of picking Perez with the top selection in the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft. The highest any Pirate has been selected in previous PBA drafts was at No. 2, when Manila Beer signed Ricky Cui in 1986.
But even if the Dyip make a sudden turn, Perez is still expected to become be the highest rookie taken from Lyceum since San Miguel took Joey Mente in 2001 and Coca-Cola picked Gary David in 2004, both with the 10th pic of their respective draft classes.
For Robinson, Perez has already proven that he can hang with the best in the PBA. And he has no doubt that the NCAA Season 93 MVP can have a lasting career in the pro league.
"We saw na he could really take over when he wants to. I'm excited for him kasi he just keeps on playing. He's a low-maintenance na player. You don't see him get mad, get pissed off, o manisi," he said.
Unfortunately for the pair, the next time they step on the court, it will be on opposing ends with Robinson also serving as an assistant coach to Louie Alas in Phoenix.
Robinson, though, is just excited over what the future holds for Perez.
"If I see him on the opposing side, that means that he has made it to the pros. Yun ang masaya para sa akin. Getting there is easy because of what you did, but staying there is the challenge and that's where I come in," he said.
However, the Lyceum coach is still keeping his fingers crossed that this won't be the last time he can handle the presumptive top pick.
"Hopefully, I get a chance to coach him in the PBA. Yun yung one of the dreams that I have. Hopefully, it will come in the near future but it will be a prize for me. Yun yung sinasabi ko na isa sa next level," said Robinson.
"I'm grateful for the relationship that we have. I made a commitment to them, whether they're in LPU or with another team, even with (MJ) Ayaay, that they'll forever be my children."