CHICAGO - It's been 19 days since Jorge Gallent took over the head coaching reins at San Miguel Beer.
The basketball lifer, a six-time champion at the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL), didn't need to get his groove back. He is 5-0 in this ongoing relief effort.
What's not known is whether Gallent's temporary assignment becomes permanent, if ever.
Unfortunately, no one within the organization is willing to talk to SPIN.ph and provide insight.
Although things are relatively quiet in this melodrama that is moving like a slow river, one name is making a lot of murmurs.
Multiple sources told SPIN.ph that Robinson has been the apple of San Miguel's eyes for years. And while no direct offers for him to join the SMC group can be confirmed, a current PBA executive told me that "they have been wanting him for several years now."
It's easy to understand why Robinson induces infatuation. He is young at 47, dynamic, and a pretty damn good coach who has won two titles in the PCCL (2011, 2017) and the PBA D-League (2018)
Robinson's clipboard exploits include taking Lyceum to three Final Four appearances and two NCAA Finals appearances, including one 18-0 season.
DOING MORE WITH LESS
Fast forward to present times. He is now in the PBA making big waves in a small pond called Phoenix, an independent franchise whose mother company is facing challenging times. Despite the limitations tying him, Topex has pushed the Fuel Masters into respected contenders.
When Phoenix lost Matthew Wright to the Japan B.League, many thought that even the best case scenario would still have been apocalyptic. But he still brought his team the playoffs in a tough Commissioner's Cup conference where none of the more heavily financed teams from the MVP group made it.
What the public didn't know was that the team was ravaged with 11 COVID positive tests last Monday, limiting practice to just seven players. By tip-off, there were three players who couldn't play.
Despite the handicap, the Fuel Masters put up a great fight, knotting the count at 86-86 in the final 5:53 of play before surrendering under the weight of the Hotshots' 16-9 finishing kick.
The stubborn, angry defiance had Robinson's fingerprints all over it. Topex has made a career by doing more with a lot less.
A team official confirmed that Topex's contract will expire "at the end of this year" and that Phoenix will "talk to him soon."
IF ROBINSON SOMEHOW OPTS TO TEST THE FREE MARKET, THE EXPECTATION IS THAT SEVERAL TEAMS WILL LINE UP TO PAY FOR HIS AMBITION.
Picture Topex Robinson calling the shots for a team loaded with talent and with the budget equivalent to the GNP of a third-world country. And then imagine the possibilities.
Is San Miguel one of them?
I've been told that if Gallent somehow guides the Beermen to the Finals round, Leo Austria's job will be his to keep. If not, a door could pop open for Topex.
He can go back to the college ranks, too.
The UAAP, which pays coaches like the pros do these days, could also be a landing spot.
"Topex has been successful at every level he has coached. He is tactically clever and has always had good relationships with his players. There's no reason to think that he wouldn't succeed at any level he chooses to coach," Ateneo's Tab Baldwin said.
Topex politely declined to do an interview for this piece, saying only that he is still processing what had been an exhausting conference.
He needs the rest. Because sometime soon, his phone is going to be ringing off the hook.