Patience has never been a strong suit for the Lasallian community over the last five years, especially with the archrival ADMU Blue Eagles winning their fourth UAAP championship in six years and other UAAP teams catching up.
Searching for the right head coach has almost become an annual tradition that it can hamper the overall development of the team and spook prospective candidates in the process. Outsiders bring up a lot of qualifications for their ideal head coach. Some were fair and good, others more fit for another era. The frustrations and the championship aspirations all boiled down to one thing: clamor for a fresh face.
Enter Topex Robinson.
The announcement of Robinson’s assumption to the role of the DLSU Green Archers’ head coach was the culmination of a search that was an assessment of the past with an eye to the future. This came after management decided not to renew Derrick Pumaren’s contract which saw among other things, one Final Four appearance and some inconsistencies over two seasons.
Robinson provides a new perspective, having never coached in the UAAP and yet coming with a wealth of collegiate basketball experience, having led both his alma mater the San Sebastian Golden Stags and the Lyceum Pirates to finals appearances in the NCAA. In between, he has also been an assistant with the Alaska Aces (now the Converge FiberXers) and the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, where the 48-year old ascended to the head coach role that he held until recently. The decorated resume Robinson has from a coaching standpoint also includes a stint with Tab Baldwin’s staff during his time with Gilas Pilipinas.
All those stops obviously meant Robinson has spent time coaching a lot of players. A number have reportedly vouched for him, to the point that his former players helped convince Evan Nelle to play out his final season for the Green Archers. In a way, it shows that the two-time PCCL champion (as a coach) is a players coach, one who can resonate with the current crop of players.
Much of what Robinson said for his first words as DLSU’s head coach have been music to the ears of the Lasallian community. Uniting the sister La Salle schools, aiming for a championship from the onset, and getting the best out of the current pool of players is a great way to manage and develop talent (although the Green Archers have never been short on talent).
But then time and time again, words have more often than not been translated into reality. Not all fault should be put on the past head coaches, as they were playing with the cards they were dealt with.
As such, judge Robinson not by his words, but by his deeds. The three-time PBA champion’s (two as a player and one as a coach) body of work obviously speaks for itself, though, how La Salle will look under Robinson remains to be seen. An interesting wrinkle is that Robinson may have never had this much resources in any of his previous stints. Robinson being introduced this early also gives him ample time to introduce his system before the preseason tournaments kick in. It may not be until opening day of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament that we see what Robinson wants to run with DLSU as a lot can happen between now and then.
One has to hope that Robinson will be given free reign to lead his team. That he has reportedly brought in assistants with La Salle ties should mean he is also surrounded by people who are aware of the gravity of what it means to be part of the Green Archers. Willie Wilson, Mon Jose, and if he accepts, Cholo Villanueva were former Green Archers, while Gian Nazario and reportedly Caloy Garcia played for DLSU’s sister schools. This should somewhat appease the quarters who keep pushing for coaches with La Salle ties, but winning should be of utmost priority regardless of what the coach’s alma mater is.
Once again, it’s the dawn of a new (coaching) era with the DLSU Green Archers and this time, it’s Topex Robinson who is tasked with bringing back the Green Archers into a championship contender. Only time will tell whether or not Robinson will succeed, but as it stands, solid coaching stops, multiple players vouching for him, and some promising first steps have him on the right track. Now, it’s best to let Topex cook.