COACH Topex Robinson had his own 'Welcome to the PBA' moment, courtesy of a legend who also happened to be his idol.
"Ito hindi ko talaga malilimutan. Kinukuwento ko ito sa mga players ko," said a laughing Robinson, now head coach of the Lyceum Pirates. "Siniko ako ni Johnny (Abarrientos). Unang laro ko 'yun (sa PBA)."
Looking back, Robinson said he had just inked a three-month contract with Red Bull back in 2003 and was eager to prove to everyone that he belonged with the big boys.
"Sabi ko three-month contract so sasagarin ko na ito," said Robinson, also the lead deputy coach of Phoenix Fuel Masters.
It so happened Red Bull was playing Coca-Cola in his debut game and he was matched up against Abarrientos, his longtime idol.
"Pagpasok ko, bantay ko si Johnny. Sabi ko, 'Idol.' So siyempre typical na idol mo for a long time ang binabantayan mo, kaya icha-challnege mo yung sarili mo," said Robinson.
Topex immediately went to work and tried to steal the ball away from the shifty MVP guard.
The attempt quickly backfired.
"Sinubukan kong sundutan, siniko ako sa mukha," he said giggling. "Akala ko kasi kaya."
Retaliation never entered Robinson's mind.
"Siyempre idol mo, so kahit sapul ka na sa mukha, nakangiti ka pa rin," he added.
Besides, he'd rather had a great player like Abarrientos give him his baptism of fire in the PBA than anyone else.
"Sabi ko sa sarili ko kung may titira lang sa akin, siyempre yung idol ko na," said Robinson laughing. "At least yung idol ko ang nag-bless sa akin."
From that three-month contract, Robinson went on to play in the league for eight years, even suiting for the Alaska Aces, the original team of his idol Abarrientos.