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MANILA, Philippines – A bit of endgame color unfolded immediately after the Phoenix Fuel Masters earned a tight 104-99 win against the Alaska Aces on Thursday, March 3.
After the final buzzer, Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso quickly walked off the court, far away from the customary handshake line with Phoenix tactician Topex Robinson and his assistants.
This happened after Robinson called a timeout with 1.1 seconds left in the game, and insisted on Matthew Wright to take one final shot despite being already up five.
In the postgame presser, the former Lyceum Pirates head coach insisted his endgame calls were all business, and nothing personal.
“It’s part of the game. I made a decision to call a timeout, because that’s in the backcourt. We’re still up by five, and we want to make sure we don’t commit a turnover,” Robinson said.
“A lot of things have happened here in the PBA, wherein you try to relax, and thought that you got the game in control. I have one more time out, I’m going to use it.”
Robinson was seen after the buzzer chatting with multiple Alaska assistants, including PBA legend Danny Ildefonso, who grabbed Robinson by the arm before both men hugged it out.
Although perfectly legal, running up the final score without a live shot clock by a sure-win team is generally frowned upon in basketball.
However, the PBA uses a quotient system for standings tiebreakers, and right now, Phoenix needs all the points it can get as it is teetering on the edge of a quarterfinal berth with a 5-5 record.
If the Aces lose their franchise’s last elimination round game against Magnolia, and the Fuel Masters win their last against Meralco, both squads will be tied at 6-5, which means extra points can spell the difference in playoff qualification.
But Robinson steered clear of that explanation in the game’s aftermath, and instead reiterated that he has nothing but respect for the retiring Alaska franchise.
“I respect that team, I know their capabilities, and I just don’t want to be a victim to another bad decision,” he said. “Again, I’ll be responsible for that. It’s something that I have to make as a coach, and I’ll be responsible for that call.” – Rappler.com