AFTER long agonizing years, the De La Salle University Green Archers annexed the school’s 10th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball title since joining the league in 1986.
I’ve been a Green Archers die hard since I was in 7th grade at La Salle Green Hills and the most recent championship ranks right up there together with the 2007 redemption and vindication team and the 2013 squad which bears a lot of similarities to the 2023 title team in terms of the adversity they had to endure like a barely above .500 record at the end of the first round.
I’m very happy for Topex Robinson who I’d say, brought a different mindset and approach to coaching. We think that Coach Robinson coaches with values and that’s not to say that the other coaches don’t but you seldom see and hear the words coach, players, love, and care mentioned in the same breath and in the same sentence.
Stories like Mark Nonoy’s who lost his confidence and mojo after the controversy involving his former school and Francis Escandor who has been seldomly used but grabbed the opportunity, took advantage of it and ran with it, flourished and shined in the game after they were blown out by 30 points.
Like I always say in sports, in any league of any sport, it’s always tough to repeat because teams will give you their best shot. For the now reigning and defending UAAP champs, they’ll get every school’s best shot twice next season when they go for back to back.
They now have a bullseye on their back, but I’m confident these kids will be ready and they’ll be up to the task.
If Kevin Quiambao decides to forego his junior year, then the team will be fine. I’ve been around La Salle basketball long enough to know that despite key players graduating, the team rises to the occasion and wins a championship despite losing key pieces. I wasn’t expecting the team to win it all in 2004 because I thought that year was a rebuilding year but somehow they got it done.
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons will always be a threat. They have the best recruiting class every offseason, they’re well coached, they’re well trained, their player development of blue chip recruits is second to none so they’ll always be there giving diehard fans like me anxiety and stress whenever they go up against DLSU.
After the ANIMO championship night, we have a feeling that former Green Archers went out of their way to assist and help Coach Robinson and the players prepare for the game after the blowout and maybe perhaps even also the title clinching game as well.
I’d like to think that in any school, there’s a bond that exists between former and current players because the former knows what the latter is going through. Most of the former Green Archers are coaches in their own right like Don Allado is Jack Santiago’s lead assistant over in UE and Ren-Ren Ritualo is the current Head Coach of La Salle Green Hills and Willy Wilson is a basketball analyst but we have no confirmation as to whether they assisted or were there during the practices but we wouldn’t be surprised if they did because of aforementioned bond between brothers.
The management and coaching staff will work their tails off to scour the earth for Filipino foreign based kids who want to ply their trade in the country playing college basketball because hopefully, they’re not satisfied and would want to have the feeling again, this time, winning championship number 11.