Behind swashbuckling Perez, Pirates determined to finally strike gold

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jun 29, 2017 06:20 PM
Behind Perez, Pirates determined to finally strike gold
TREASURE ISLAND. LPU is ready and raring to live up to the hype that has been following them for all of the preseason.

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 6-12, 9th place

YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Jesper Ayaay, Mike Nzeusseu

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino, CJ Perez, Spencer Pretta

GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Shaq Alanes, Jebb Bulawan, Joseph Gabayni

In the preseason, Topex Robinson led Lyceum of the Philippines University into defeating his alma mater.

With that win, the Pirates made their first-ever Filoil Final Four.

As always, the amiable mentor downplayed his personal win and instead highlighted what the triumph meant for his budding program in Intramuros. “I’ll always be a Stag, it’s always gonna be a part of me, but again, my loyalty is to LPU. I want to bring glory to LPU,” he expressed.

To do just that, Robinson knows he needs to replicate that exact same feat in the upcoming NCAA. “We continue to hope we’re building a culture of winning. Of course, it’s not gonna be easy and we’re gonna make mistakes,” he shared.

He then continued, “But it’s for our growth and hopefully, that will contribute to our building of a culture of winning. It’s something that, obviously, the whole LPU community has been hoping for a long time.”

The good news is that now into his third year as shot-caller, Robinson will have holdovers MJ Ayaay, Wilson Baltazar, and Mike Nzeusseu – as well as perhaps the biggest offseason haul for any collegiate team this year.

That list includes former San Sebastian standout CJ Perez, former San Sebastian sniper Spencer Pretta, and energetic rookie recruits Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino. Asked about their fresh faces, the coach answered, “Kung san-san napulot. Our new players were players left behind by their teams prior to coming here.”

He then continued, “We just gave them a chance. Mahalaga kasi na bigyan mo ng tsansa and tiwala yung bata.”

That was no more evident than in Pretta who exploded for 21 points, all on triples, in the Pirates’ preseason matchup against University of Sto. Tomas. “Spencer has really been a shooter since I got him when he was 16-years-old. I guess, that’s just believing in him na he will take and make those shots,” Robinson said.

Pretta was recruited by Robinson for San Sebastian before the two of them set sail for Intramuros.

But of course, all will begin and end for LPU with arguably Robinson’s biggest get – six-foot-two do-it-all swingman Perez. “The good thing about this team is that CJ is one of the best players in the league, but he’s always the same as the other guys,” Robinson said.

Fortunately for the mentor and the team’s fans, the 23-year-old is already locked in. “Sa preseason, maganda ginawa namin kasi nag-contribute, nag-step up lahat. Pero preseason pa lang yun; yung NCAA talaga pinaghahandaan namin,” he shared.

He then continued, “’Di ko kayang mag-isang dalhin kami sa Final Four, pero yung buong team, committed naman para ma-achieve yun. Basta gagawin lang namin magagawa namin.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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