UAAP: New coach Robinson says La Salle 'full of potential'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2023 06:36 PM

Topex Robinson is the new coach of De La Salle University. PBA Images
Topex Robinson is the new coach of De La Salle University. PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines -- Topex Robinson wants to maximize the talent and potential in the De La Salle Green Archers as he takes over the university's high-profile men's basketball program.

Robinson, 48, was formally named the new head coach of La Salle on Thursday, replacing Derick Pumaren whose contract was not renewed following the Green Archers' disappointing campaign in Season 85. 

Pegged as contenders for the UAAP championship, La Salle struggled with injuries and player availability. They labored to a 7-7 record in the elimination round, and lost to Adamson University in a playoff for the last spot in the Final 4. 

"I think nagkulang [ang team] because of the injuries to players," Robinson said on "Power and Play" on Saturday, as he discussed the team's most recent campaign with former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala. "Ang daming times po na hindi po talaga kumpleto 'yung line-up."

Filipino-American guard Schonny Winston, the leading MVP candidate after the first round of Season 85, missed several games due to a calf injury. Michael Phillips and Kevin Quiambao missed crucial contests -- including their season-ending defeat to Adamson -- due to illnesses. 

Evan Nelle and CJ Austria missed time due to suspensions. La Salle was rarely able to field a full lineup in the second round of the tournament. 

"There were a lot of games that they could have won," Robinson noted. "It's just a matter of [breaks]... They lost by two points, one possession."

Having closely observed the Green Archers in their UAAP campaign, Robinson has no doubt that he is inheriting a team that can contend for a championship. Though Winston has graduated, La Salle still has Quiambao, Austria, brothers Michael and Ben Phillips, and up-and-coming players like Earl Abadam and CJ Austria.

Nelle also committed to return to the Green Archers for his final season of eligibility in a further boost to Robinson's cause.

"They are packed with talent, they're young. So balanse rin po, with every position, there's somebody that could step up. I think that's one thing," Robinson said of his team. 

"Coach Derick and the rest of the staff were able to recruit quality players. So, I think it's just an opportunity po with what we have right now, on how we're gonna maximize this talent," he added. "The team is so full of potential."

To realize that potential, Robinson says the Green Archers have to be on the same page. He stressed to Eala that his first order of business as head coach is to ensure that the team has a solid foundation, before they can even think of competing with the league's top teams.

"It's a matter of making sure that we're gonna play the same tune, to the same beat, and we're gonna dance to the same song," he said.

"We want to make sure that our foundation is solid, because if we're not a united front, any team could beat us," Robinson also said. "Before we focus our attention on the outside dangers, we have to focus on what's inside, and that's building our relationship."

UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.