Ten months have elapsed since the appointment of Coach Michael Christian “Topex” Robinson as the head strategist for the De La Salle University Green Archers. A historied team with a glorious history found itself in disarray, teetering on the brink of collapse. Rival factions sought to poach talents from the La Salle roster, even prompting contemplation among some players to forgo their final year of play.
“Magaling talaga si Manong,” affirmed Kevin Quiambao, a leading MVP candidate for Season 86, during an insightful interview on Nico Rocha’s 6th Man podcast. Quiambao nuanced this praise, citing an incongruence with the former coach’s style in the context of the Gen Z palate.
“Mali lang talaga sa timing. Ibang era.”
Coach Topex’s entry injected much-needed stability into a program veering towards catastrophe. Renowned for his rapport and ability to motivate players, senior point guard Evan Nelle committed to completing his eligibility, while Kevin Quiambao rebuffed all external advances.
“If he is the coach, I will stay”
Beyond Coach Topex’s track record with generational talents for their respective schools like Lyceum’s CJ Perez and San Sebastian’s Calvin Abueva, his close-knit bonds with players transcend the court, resembling familial ties. This depth goes far beyond strategic basketball maneuvers, delving into the essence of his players’ lives, what they like and don’t, their dreams and aspirations.
For Quiambao, the initial break in his high school basketball career under Coach Topex’s pipeline program at Lyceum resonated profoundly. Witnessing Coach Topex’s relentless dedication and approach to coaching fueled Quiambao’s resolve to stay put.
A mere ten months into his tenure, Coach Topex orchestrated a remarkable transformation. Rising from a subpar .500 team at 3-3, the Green Archers surged forward, securing a commanding 11-3 standing, bestowing a “twice to beat” advantage.
Quiambao’s evolution throughout the season was palpable. No longer reactive to his team mate’s errors, he leads the team in assists in some games, reveling in the art of facilitating his teammates’ plays. Spectacular no-look dishes to a cutting Archer became a common sight in Season 86.
What ignited this transformation? Was it astute game plans or shrewd scouting?
For Quiambao, it all boiled down to a deeply personal connection. It was about holistic comprehension—physical, emotional, and psychological—allowing Coach Topex to engage intimately with his roster, from marquee stars to the 16th man on rotation.
“Unang araw pa lang, naramdaman na namin” Quiambao recalled, emphasizing Coach Topex’s inclusive communication style that resonated with everyone.
Coach Topex first 100 days into La Salle as a coach was met with mixed reactions. His introduction involved premier vlogging, capturing practices in cinematic quality. Even the stars were initially apprehensive, Quiambao eventually recognized its value—an outreach to fervent La Salle fans, offering a glimpse into the Green Archers’ world.
Ten months in, Coach Topex transcended the realm of a good coach, embodying a championship-caliber tactician. Player development, a longstanding concern for the Archers, underwent a visible renaissance. Quiambao’s tireless work ethic translated into on-court endurance and physical prowess. Even Francis Escandor saw meaningful playtime, showcasing on-ball defensive tenacity and three-point proficiency.
Evan Nelle showed tremendous decision-making maturity and now makes the right call on when to pass and when to take charge.
His counsel to Mark Nonoy, “kapalan mo mukha mo,” catalyzed Nonoy’s resurgence as a lethal scoring force, steering clear of aimless dashes and asserting himself when opportunities arose, all with Coach Topex’s blessing.
“If you see daylight, take it.”
However, winning in the present season is but one facet occupying Coach Topex’s mind. “Years from now, we’ll reminisce about tonight, this game, and perhaps, this season. I want us all to cherish this journey,” he remarked, displaying an audacious mindset amidst a program historically intolerant of defeat.
That epitomizes Topex’s brevity and valor—to shield his players from scathing criticism, willingly enduring it himself. Amidst blame directed at him after the third loss to UP, he stoically entered the press room, absorbing the blame.
“Dito niyo ako masusubukan”, Topex shared this moment after the win against UP in the second round.
When the onslaught ensued, he absorbed the blows, assuming full responsibility, deflecting attention from missed free throws or hero ball attempts.
He bore the burden alone, unfazed by job security concerns, yearning for his players to fondly reminisce about this brief juncture, win or lose.
Yet, his quest isn’t solely centered on collecting euphoric memories. He enlisted specialized trainers to hone players’ skills where needed. Quiambao, guided by Gelo Vito and a nutritionist, ascended to elite player status, owing in part to impeccable conditioning.
Amid accolades, Coach Topex swiftly redirected praise to his adept assistant coaches. This amalgamation of elements coalesced into an offensive scheme emphasizing ball sharing and purposeful movement.
Defensively, it was an almost suffocating aura—a rapid switch coupled with tactical dismantling of opponents’ strategies. Shutting down UP’s Lebron Lopez to a single field goal and limiting Ateneo’s field goal percentage to just 24% in the first half showcased a team unified under a common ethos.
And despite being a coach that has been part of many championships, collegiate and professional, Coach Topex instilled a culture demanding respect for all staff, down to the ball boys.
“Dinemand sa amin yun ni Coach Topex” said the Season 86 MVP frontrunner.
“Ang babait ng mga players ng La Salle nun naging coach si Topex,” one of the commissioned videographers remarked.
Analysts point to the “system” Coach Topex has designed and executed. But it wasn’t just the “system” that they play on the court.
To this day, Coach Topex Robinson stays with the players in the dorm and whenever they cross paths with him on the corridor, he will hug them as a greeting. In his words, “hug the people you love. Because there would come a time that you can no longer hug them when they’re gone”. He encourages his players to take their studies seriously by example, Coach Topex is a Sports Management major in De La Salle U.
Ultimately, TOPEXOLOGY transcends way beyond the borders of basketball—it embodies a way of life. This is the way Coach Topex have always wanted it for his players, an enduring impact in their lives that will live way beyond the final buzzer of their final game as a DLSU Green Archer.