Topex Robinson has been like a second father to Calvin Abueva.
Through joys and tears, through triumphs and defeats, the relationship between the 46-year-old coach and the 33-year-old do-it-all forward had stood numerous tests.
And who could ever forget when Robinson shed tears of joy when Abueva finally played his first PBA game back after a 16-month suspension back on October 26?
Robinson had one regret, though. That regret was that he and Abueva were not able to talk before the latter was sent to Magnolia by Phoenix Super LPG last February 17.
But it was beyond Robinson’s control.
“Before the news came out, I was supposed to meet him in Starbucks Pasig. But he did not show up. Before the news came out at 9AM – you can ask Calvin about it, that I wanted to meet him at 8:30AM,” Robinson bared to Tiebreaker Times.
“Sabi nga niya, namatay celphone niya. We wanted to be the first one to tell him. We wanted to be professional by telling him first because that’s my obligation to him.”
This was in-line with what Abueva told 2OT powered by SMART last week when he said, “‘Yung friend ko pa ‘yung nakaalam kasi low batt ako kanina eh, hindi ko nakita. Hindi ko napansin lahat ng mga naging reaction.
“Nagulat na lang ako na na-trade na ako.”
Still, Robinson knows that it won’t affect his relationship with Abueva.
Even before Abueva’s reinstatement by the league last October, Robinson had already been telling his ward to perform at his peak once he gets to play since it was his contract year.
Abueva did just that, averaging 15.42 points, 11.33 rebounds, 5.17 assists, and 1.67 steals in the 12 games he played inside the PBA bubble. It was as if the Beast was never gone.
“Before even bringing him to the bubble, I’ve spoken to Calvin, telling him to do well in the bubble. The first eight years have already been lost. Sabi ko sa kanya, Phoenix will help you if there are other options for you and he did really well in the bubble,” proudly gushed Robinson.
“Phoenix offered him a three-year contract, which shows that we are serious in being with him for the long-term.”
However, things happened over the last two months between Phoenix and Abueva.
“During the time in January to now, nagkaroon ng kaunting challenge with Calvin.
“The opportunity then presented itself,” said Robinson.
The opportunity was a trade offer from Magnolia ,which sent Banchero and their second round pick in the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft to Phoenix for Abueva and a first round pick swap.
Phoenix had realized it needed a steady point guard after its elimination in the semis of last year’s Philippine Cup.
“With the decision with Calvin, we were taking a risk. I was also part of that decision. Hindi siya parang, ‘Topex, te-trade natin si Calvin ah!'” quipped the amiable tactician.
In the end, the risk ended up being worth it. Besides Banchero, Phoenix also landed Vic Manuel six days after the trade.
Phoenix essentially traded Abueva, the 10th pick in the 2021 PBA Draft, and a 2022 first round pick for Banchero, Manuel, and the seventh pick in this year’s draft.
“It was a risk, but now we have a Vic and CB with the picks.”