Bona fide Lasallista: UAAP champion Topex Robinson embraces freshly grown Taft roots

John Bryan Ulanday - Philstar.com
Bona fide Lasallista: UAAP champion Topex Robinson embraces freshly grown Taft roots
La Salle head coach Topex Robinson
Philstar.com / Martin Ramos

MANILA, Philippines – Being a “La Sallian” is more than just coaching a La Salle squad in any sport. For Topex Robinson, being a Green Archer requires being one – literally.

Unknown to many, Robinson — a product of San Sebastian College-Recoletos — right upon taking the reins in Taft as the newest head coach this season is also an enrolled student of De La Salle University.

Well, Robinson, who has three children, is a UAAP champion coach now. And more than that, a champion student-athlete.

“I wanted it. One of the reasons I did it is because I want to be ingrained as a Lasallista,” the 46-year-old mentor told The STAR after steering La Salle to its first UAAP title in seven years in his debut season.

“Sometimes I’m a coach, sometimes I’m a student, sometimes I’m a classmate, sometimes I’m a friend. It kind of broadened the relationship.”

It’s the first collegiate championship of Robinson, who had coaching stints with San Sebastian and Lyceum in the NCAA as well with Alaska and Phoenix in the PBA. He did it by also joining Franz Pumaren, Aldin Ayo and June Sauler as first-year coaches to win the UAAP for La Salle.

He’s turning 47 this Christmas but as much as it’s an early birthday present, Robinson’s feat was a celebration of his labor on the court and inside the classrooms.

Robinson, who even had classes with his players EJ Gollena and Earl Abadam, did it all by taking up a sports management degree since he was named La Salle’s new coach in January.

For a year, he juggled up a tremendous double duty of devising game plans against the genius coaches in Ateneo’s Tab Baldwin and UP’s Goldwin Monteverde among the few and doing homework for his professors.

This week alone, Robinson had to endure two finals.

He already passed the UAAP Season 86 basketball finals in flying colors courtesy of La Salle’s 73-69 win in Game 3 over the University of the Philippines in front of more than 25,000 fans. Now, he’s planning to take care of the La Salle finals week next – alone.

“Getting a degree in sports management would give me an option after coaching. Coaching is not forever. When you get hired, you have to be ready to get fired,” added Robinson, who first took Mass Communications in San Sebastian back in his playing years.

“Ano pa ba pwede kong gawin? I’m enrolled and that makes me a legit La Sallian. I embrace the community and the culture of the school. I have to make sure that I belong.”

Robinson did, becoming a student of the game in more ways than one as the Green Archers celebrated their 10th crown on the heels of a historic ring ceremony for the school’s previous champion teams, including the four-peat team from 1998 to 2001 and 2016, last week at the DLSU campus in Manila.

“I will always remember what Renren Ritualo said. Ang sabi niya lang, ‘Ang sarap maging Lasallista.’ It stuck in me. If I’d be given to win a championship, that would be my words, "'Ang sarap maging Lasallista'. I’m honored and grateful to be a part of it,” he shared.

Next season, Robinson has a tough task anew to anchor La Salle’s title defense on the court.

But that can wait as the La Salle student goes full-time inside the classrooms this semester.

“Sinisipagan ko mag-aral. Ta-tyagain ko talaga. I will go full load this term para mapabilis,” he beamed with hopes of finishing the degree in two to three years.

From being a mere outsider coach, Robinson can now follow the famous words of Ritualo.

For he has become a bona fide Lasallista.

Check that, a champion Lasallista.

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