COACH Topex Robinson relishes a rare breather after a backbreaking schedule that saw the Lyceum Pirates shuffling between games in the PBA D-League and the Philippine Collegiate Champions League.
The Pirates played their fourth straight game, and their sixth in a matter of eight days, on Monday when they blew past the San Sebastian Stags 82-69 to book a ticket to the PCCL Finals.
The Pirates showed no sign of fatigue during that stretch, winning all six games and taking down strong teams like Letran-backed Wangs Basketball, CESAFI champion University of Visayas and UAAP champion Ateneo.
Robinson, who’s admittedly tired as well, is happy they can finally get a day off.
“Atleast now makakapagpahinga na rin,” said Robinson with a smile after their victory over the Stags. “I’m also blessed to have good character players na they take care of themselves.”
Robinson credited conditioning coach and former PBA cager Gilbert Malabanan for taking care of the players during the hellish stretch.
“They are more mentally drained but again that’s the work we put in,” Robinson continued. “Coach Gilbert Malabanan has done a great job in making sure we’re in tip-top shape. Ito 'yung games na aani ka sa in-invest mo na conditioning with them.”
His star player in CJ Perez was probably the most impressive of them all.
Aside from playing all six games for the Pirates, the reigning NCAA MVP even showed up for Gilas practice as part of the 23 for 2023 pool early Monday afternoon in North Greenhills, before making the short trip to the Filoil Flying V Center for the PCCL semifinal game against his former team.
Perez even started and finished with 12 points and five rebounds in the blowout win.
“Iniisip ko lang na sobrang happy ko kasi nakarating kami sa PCCL finals,” said Perez. “Napakagandang experience din ito para sa amin at sobrang happy lang talaga ako na nakarating kami sa finals.”
For Perez, it’s all about mental toughness.
“Yung rest lang din ang importante. Yang pagod, nasa utak mo na lang yan e. Lalo na yung type of basketball namin takbuhan talaga,” Perez continued. “So talagang nasa utak nalang yan. More energy at mental toughness.”
Robinson said the Pirates will be back training on Wednesday to prepare for their finals rematch against the Red Lions, this time for the national title, on Thursday.
The Pirates and the Red Lions will clash in the one-game knockout match for PCCL supremacy at the Filoil Flying V Center at 5 p.m.
“More on trying to replenish and recover yung katawan nila. Even me, I need a break,” Robinson said. “Para rin ma-miss namin ang isa’t isa, araw-araw nalang kami magkasama e.”