Topex Robinson was in awe after learning that Tim Cone mentioned him in his acceptance speech upon being named as the Outstanding Coach of the Bubble in the 2019-2020 PBA Press Corps Annual Awards Night Sunday.
The Barangay Ginebra head coach said that he shares the award with his Phoenix Super LPG counterpart for doing a “tremendous job” with his team in the Philippine Cup bubble last year, where he steered his side to the semis.
“Wow! It’s a great honor to be mentioned by the person that I look up to,” Robinson told Tiebreaker Times moments after the event, which was held by the PBA PC virtually in partnership with Cignal.
It means plenty for the young coach, since those words came straight from the man who gave him his first-ever PBA coaching gig.
Robinson joined the Aces as a player before the 2010 Fiesta Conference quarterfinals. He went on to win his second PBA title as they defeated San Miguel Beer. He then became one of the Aces’ assistant coaches in 2011.
But it was unfortunate that the two did not have much time together. Also in 2011, Cone ended his 22-year stay with the Wilfred S. Uytengsu-owned franchise as he went to the B-Meg Llamados.
Robinson, though, would remain with Alaska until 2017, when his fellow assistant coach Louie Alas brought him along upon taking over Phoenix’s head coaching reins following the resignation of Ariel Vanguardia.
The former Lyceum mentor, about three years later, was appointed as the Fuel Masters’ interim head coach after Alas’s shock firing. He was appointed officially as their chief think-tank during bubble play back in November.
With him, the team had itself a run to remember. He led his wards to an 8-3 card for the no. 2 seed, earning a twice-to-beat edge for the quarters. They used it to stun Magnolia en route to their second straight all-Filipino semis.
Phoenix even moved one win away from its first-ever Finals trip before bowing to TNT in the best-of-five tilt that went the full route.
Thanks to Robinson also, players like Matthew Wright and Calvin Abueva, his former player at San Sebastian, both had a stellar conference. Both even vied for the coveted Best Player of the Conference award.
Justin Chua, meanwhile, was crowned as the Top D-Fender of the Bubble for emerging as the Clark bubble’s top shot-blocker with 1.6, alongside averages of 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in a breakout year.
Veteran guard RJ Jazul, lastly, was bestowed as the 2020 Mr. Quality Minutes for his contributions off the bench. He normed 11.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists, including a 33-point outing in a big win over San Miguel.
Robinson has been showing that he is indeed a PBA head coach with what he has done so far, but he has never — and never will, surely — forgotten all about Cone for giving him the chance to become a coach.
“He was also the one that gave me my first coaching opportunity in the PBA. I will be forever grateful to Coach Tim! He is a blessing to Philippine basketball.”