Lyceum coach Topex Robinson doesn’t mind serving more as a “motivator” while his assistants do more of the game preparations for the Pirates.
After all, the latest set-up is paying big dividends for the Pirates and Robinson is in no rush to deviate from that.
Whether it will work wonders anew will be known on Tuesday when Lyceum takes on dangerous Mapua in a crucial encounter in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
Game time is at 2 o’clock, with the Pirates (5-5) bidding to extend their winning streak to three while adding pressure to the Cardinals (6-4) who are hoping to get back on track and keep their hold of the No. 4 spot in the 10-team field.
Lyceum underlined its serious title contention by sweeping defending champion Letran in their head-to-head match-up in the eliminations, the last a thrilling 68-66 victory last Thursday, the same day Mapua suffered a shock 60-65 loss dealt by another Final Four hopeful Jose Rizal U.
Robinson admitted making it to the semifinals round remains a steep climb but he’s eager to spur on the Pirates.
“It’s gonna be hard for us since we cannot afford to lose games in the second round. I just have to motivate them,” he said.
“My role to them right now is more of a motivator than a coach. My assistants are doing a great job in terms of preparing our game plan. Kaya parang naiiba ang shift ko. But it works for us so we just have to continue doing it.”
The Cardinals handily beat the Pirates 75-64 in their initial encounter last July 12 and facing them following a tough loss could mean big trouble according to Robinson.
“They’re gonna come back with guns blazing,” he noted. “They beat us in the first round but hopefully we’ll be able to even up with them.”
That’s easier said than done, however, since the Pirates are sweating over the fitness of prized Cameroon import Mike Nzeusseu who was slowed down by his nagging back injury in their repeat victory over the Pirates.
Good thing for Robinson, the likes of wingmen MJ Ayaay, Wilson Baltazar, Shaq Alanes, Reymar Caduyac and big man Joseph Gabayni are doing enough to help the Pirates’ cause.
“It’s been a collective effort for us,” said Robinson, adding wingman Jebb Bulawan, sidelined by shoulder injury in their past few games, could suit up anew for the Pirates.
Having dropped three of their last four games while losing their ground against the pacesetters, the Cardinals should start to play with some sense of urgency, with reigning league MVP Allwell Oraeme leading the way.
That, however, is far from Robinson’s concerns, keeping his focus on whipping the Pirates to become more potent.
“We just want to focus on the things that we have control of which is us and how we’re going to prepare against other teams,” he said.
“As much as possible, we don’t want to put pressure on our standing. We’re just trying to win many games as we can. We’re just one win away from that No. 4 spot. So that’s how crucial every game is and all the teams know how important the positioning is. We just have to prepare and be humbled for this opportunity,” Robinson concluded. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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