ANTIPOLO, Philippines – Phoenix coach Topex Robinson points to Rain or Shine tactician Yeng Guiao as the man who paved the way for him in the PBA.
Almost two decades later, Robinson is doing the same with the likes of Encho Serrano.
Robinson earned another win over his former mentor as the Fuel Masters beat Guiao and the Elasto Painters, 92-83, behind a gutsy performance from Serrano on Wednesday, October 26.
“I always tell this to my team: I owe everything to Yeng Guiao. Because if not for Yeng Guiao, I’m not going to be a PBA player,” Robinson said.
“So I will forever be grateful to him and the only way I could pay it back is to give chance to others.”
Picked 44th overall by Tanduay in the 2001 PBA Draft, Robinson failed to land with a team and instead toiled in the now-defunct Philippine Basketball League.
But Robinson found his way to the PBA in 2003 after being signed by Guiao to play for Red Bull, which he helped win a championship throughout his five-year run with the squad.
Robinson went on to play in the PBA until 2011, winning another title with Alaska, before he transitioned to coaching, following in the footsteps of Guiao.
“The moment I came into the league back in 2003, I already knew I’m going to be a coach. I don’t know why I was thinking that way. So everything that he wrote down on the board, I always wrote it down,” Robinson said.
“I don’t know why, but everything he said, I still know it by heart. Because I wanted to be that person.”
The same way Guiao trusted him, Robinson took a chance on Serrano.
Considered as a potential late first-round or an early second-round pick, the former La Salle standout fell in the previous draft before he got snagged by Robinson and Phoenix as the 19th overall selection.
Serrano repaid that trust on Wednesday as he delivered a career-high 18 points on top of 5 rebounds and 5 assists to key the Fuel Masters to their fourth straight win, the longest active winning streak in the Commissioner’s Cup.
“Everybody passed on Encho and I gave Encho this chance because I was also given a chance,” Robinson said.
“That’s why I always tell my players not to take anything for granted because I just took advantage of that guy giving me a chance,” he added. “I love him to death. He knows that.” – Rappler.com