MANILA, Philippines – Lyceum of the Philippines University head coach Topex Robinson expressed his gratitude to those who had supported Pirates star CJ Perez, in the wake of his controversial suspension in Game 1 of the NCAA Season 94 Finals.
The league ruled that because he did not inform the NCAA Management Committee of his intent to apply for the PBA Rookie Draft, Perez was to be banned for Game 1 of the best-of-3 series against the San Beda University Red Lions.
San Beda, the defending NCAA champion, went on to win, 73-60, and move on the cusp of a third straight title.
Perez's suspension, however, cast a cloud over the entire game. The NCAA's decision had already drawn criticism and even outright derision from the basketball community, with Robinson taking special note of the comments made by San Miguel guard Chris Ross and De La Salle-College of St. Benilde assistant coach Charles Tiu.
"I wanna thank Chris Ross for standing behind what his opinion was, I wanna thank him, I wanna thank Coach Charles for speaking (up)," Robinson said on Tuesday, following their loss in Game 1.
He was also grateful to those who showed their support on social media, even if ultimately, their indignation was not enough to compel the NCAA to change their mind regarding Perez's suspension.
"It's not about if they support you or not. It's about what they thought was right," said Robinson.
"It's just nice to see those people looking for a nice basketball game, kasi nga championship eh," he added. "I'm really grateful for that."
Robinson himself levied criticism at the NCAA for their decision, maintaining that his player "didn't do anything wrong."
"This is for the kids eh. Our job as coaches is to give them an opportunity to be seen and have a better future," he also said. "CJ is gonna have a kid soon, and they just took away that dream to be in the finals."
"He'll never get the chance again, that Game 1 will be lost forever," he added.
The comments made by Robinson and Tiu had reportedly landed them in hot water with the league, with the Management Committee pondering potential sanctions for them.
Fortunately for Lyceum, Frank Gusi of host school University of Perpetual Help revealed Thursday that Robinson has escaped suspension and will thus be on the sidelines when Lyceum looks to force a deciding game next week.
The Pirates will also welcome back Perez on Monday's Game 2, set for 4 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"We just have to bring it again on Monday and see what's in store for us. We're excited to have CJ Perez back in our line-up," said Robinson.
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