MANILA -- No De La Salle University player fits coach Topex Robinson's system better than Mark Nonoy.
From speed to defensive instincts, the La Carlota, Negros Occidental native presents an uncanny resemblance to the game of the new Green Archers mentor, who is considered one of the fiercest defensive guards during his playing years.
"And the color, too," joked Robinson of Nonoy, who played an integral part of La Salle's undefeated run so far in the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.
Truth be told, Robinson has had his eyes on Nonoy from way back when the player was still in high school.
That made this partnership sweet for the mentor as he starts his new chapter at La Salle with Nonoy, who opted to stay for his final playing year in Taft, at his disposal.
"He's really exciting to watch and I'm really happy to have him," he said.
For Nonoy, this also feels like a rebirth of sorts as he looks to recapture the mojo which saw him win the Juniors MVP and Rookie of the Year honors when he was still with University of Santo Tomas (UST).
"Ang laki ng pasasalamat ko kay coach," said the 5-foot-8 speedster while holding back tears as he looks forward to a better showing in his swan song for the Green Archers. "Tinuruan niya kaming ibalik 'yung confidence namin kasi all these years, parang nawala 'yung confidence ko."
And that's what really matters most for Robinson: for Nonoy to have that confidence which makes him one of the best guards in the UAAP today.
"The good thing about Mark is his confidence is so important. He will make mistakes, but it's okay to make mistakes. And I tell these to the guys that if you have a shot, shoot it with confidence. It all rubs off from there, that if they're doing well, they make sure to bring the other guys with them. He's one of our selfless leaders," said the coach.
This renewed purpose also provides an extra lift for Nonoy, who is motivated to make this upcoming UAAP Season 86 count as he looks forward to his pro career.
"Yung mga kasabayan ko nung Season 82, lahat wala na sa UAAP at nasa ibang bansa na. Pero sa akin, mag-focus lang ako at mag-stick ako dito, na 'yung kulang sa team ibibigay ko," he said. "Lahat ng struggles ko sa family, basketball career ko, ibubuhos ko na kasi ito na 'yung last playing year ko."