MANILA, Philippines – Lyceum coach Topex Robinson immediately took responsibility following the Pirates' defeat to San Beda in Game 1 of the NCAA Season 93 finals, acknowledging that he made some poor tactical decisions in the contest.
After winning all 18 of their games in the elimination round, the Pirates were unable to extend their winning streak to 19 games. Instead, the Red Lions hacked out a 94-87 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three finals series.
"San Beda was really a great team this afternoon. We really lost to a better team," Robinson said after their game.
"I told them, it's my fault," he also said. "I made some bad decisions, bad coaching."
Robinson said that his players "really played well," and indeed, the Pirates showed no signs of rust despite a three-week layoff. They even led by 12 points in the third quarter, and newly crowned MVP CJ Perez was nearly unstoppable all game long.
In the fourth quarter, however, they made some gambles on the defensive end that backfired on them. Robert Bolick, in particular, dissected their pick-and-roll defense late in the game, and Donald Tankoua pounced on mismatches inside the paint.
Robinson said that these decisions were on him.
"At the end of the day, it's my responsibility to find ways to win. Whatever the result, at the end of the day, it's my head. I made the mistake, and I'm sorry," he said. "We will try to work on that – those mismatches, and try to figure out ways to cover that."
The ever gracious Robinson also credited the Red Lions for how they played. "They really are the champions," he said.
"They were really aggressive going to the basket, going for the 50-50 balls," he added. "Again, this is why this is the finals. You really have to grind it out with them."
Yet all season long, Robinson has stressed that the Pirates' goal is not to sweep, nor is it even to win the title. Their wins, he often said, is a byproduct of their vision, which is to inspire others.
Thus, just as their winning streak did not define them, this loss to San Beda will not, either.
"It's not going to define us, just because of the loss. What's going to define us as a team is how we're going to bounce back," Robinson said.
"We’re gonna fight, we’re gonna play, we’re gonna compete. Whatever the result is, we’ll have to peace of mind that we gave our very best. At the end of the day yun ang importante samin," he added.
"We’ll be true to ourselves that this is the finals, there’s no more excuse na hindi ka magko-compete. Compete means doesn’t guarantee a win. But knowing that until that last possession, we will always honor the game and play our basketball."
Robinson and the Pirates will have plenty of time to recover from their defeat. Game 2 is not until Thursday, November 16 at the Big Dome.
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