MANILA, Philippines — La Salle is now the hottest team in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament with a four-game winning streak following a big win over No. 1 University of the Philippines on Sunday.
The key to the Green Archers’ string of victories? “Teamsmanship,” according to coach Topex Robinson.
“We term a phrase like ‘teamsmanship.’ How well everybody could contribute for you to be an elite team, you don’t only need leaders, but you also have to have great teammates. Teammanship means whoever has the ball you have to share that basketball. We had  assists again in a big game like this against UP,” said La Salle coach Topex Robinson after their 88-79 victory over UP in front of 13,469 fans on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
With the Green Archers rising to a 7-3 record just a game behind league leaders UP and National University, the former PBA mentor said he is taking a page out of the defunct Alaska Aces’ playbook.
“Coming into this game, I just told them what I learned from being with the Alaska Aces organization and one thing’s written on that board is what can you do today that will get you closer to winning a championship,” Robinson said. “We really just focused on today, how can we get better, we’re not really looking at [our chance of getting the twice-to-beat advantage] until you mentioned it.”
Robinson lauded his whole crew led by Kevin Quiambao, who scored 11 of his 22 points down the stretch. Evan Nelle, who missed their first-round game against UP, also spelled the difference with 17 points including the dagger trey. Michael Phillips, Jonnel Policarpio, and Francis Escandor also had their moments.
“As [Kevin Quiambao] said, it’s not just about him. It’s nice to see Mike back in action, Francis played well against UP, obviously Poli is really playing well but we also have to acknowledge our support like Josh [David] and Joaqui [Manuel] played well this evening. Again, it’s all about everybody, everybody matters,” he said.
Policarpio, who was also instrumental with 11 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, said he just embraced his role that led to his impressive performances the past four games for the Green Archers.
“I am just doing my job. I follow what coach wants me to do and his system. I double my effort always,” said Policarpion in Filipino.
Robinson, who is in his first year as La Salle coach, said their focus was not on avenging their heartbreaking first-round loss to UP last month but rather on learning from their experience.
“We don’t really look UP as our opponent but they are worthy rivals, their strength is our weakness, they know how to end games and they’re composed even without Malick [Diouf] and JD. [Cagulangan] They are really a strong team. We’re just happy to keep the game close, we kinda collapse but as long as we’re gonna get better with every opportunity. Paying UP with so much respect and winning will be the byproduct of what we’re doing,” Robinson said. “I guess it’s the experience of going through shared adversities. That loss to UP really hurt us, especially since we really had a chance. We’re just trying to sharpen our saw and trying to get better.”
“But the most important for us is we don’t wanna let this day slip by without us enjoying this opportunity, playing for the crowd, playing for our fans, and our families. Most of my timeouts weren’t really about X and Os anymore, it’s reminding these guys to enjoy it. I told them playing college is the most memorable experience you’re gonna have in your basketball career,” he added.
Despite La Salle’s recent success, Robinson insists the Archers still have a long way to go as they shift their focus to Adamson on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.