FORMER San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson said he never failed to warn his players against getting into a situation where they could find themselves facing suspicion of game-fixing.
“I just told them every time that this [game] is your livelihood, this is what you want to do, so don’t sell yourself and ruin your career,” said Robinson in an interview with Spin.ph shortly after Alaska’s practice at the Reyes gym.
His statement came amidst talks of possible game-fixing swirling around the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, especially in light of his sudden resignation as head coach of the NCAA title favorites.
Robinson, now a full-time assistant coach at Alaska, stepped down from his post three days after San Sebastian inexplicably lost to the lowly and undermanned Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 67-77.
Two of the Stags’ star players, Calvin Abueva and Ronald Pascual, played below-par against a Generals side that showed up without two suspended top players and head coach Gerry Esplana.
Robinson however, was quick to maintain there was no truth to talks that his players `deliberately lost’ the game and cost San Sebastian to drop its second setback in three outings for a 7-3 (win-loss) slate.
“Recently there has been talk about that (game-fixing), but there is no hard evidence about that matter. In fact, it (game-fixing talks) has been there since I was playing. I’ve encountered a lot of talks about that, but it’s something that’s hard to prove,” explained Robinson, who played for San Sebastian in the 90s.
Abueva, the reigning league MVP and picked 2nd overall by Alaska in the recent PBA Draft, averaged 19.3 points and 16.5 rebounds per game this season. But against the Generals, he was held to just nine points and eight rebounds, snapping his nine-game streak of double-double efforts.
The sweet-shooting Pascual, on the other hand, could only come up with 10 points on 1-of-16 shooting from the three-point zone -- a huge scoring letdown considering he was coming off an explosive 28-point performance against San Beda prior to their meeting with the Generals.
So frustrated was Robinson that he stormed out of the arena without talking to his team after the match.
He explained: “I was really pissed off because we really had a bad game (against EAC) and I didn’t want to say harsh words that I will only regret later. I was just like a ticking time bomb. My players know me."
He eventually had a talk with the team a day later, Robinson said.
"But I told them that those things (bad game) happen and that they really lose to even lower bracketed teams, but they just have to learn from their mistakes," added the 37-yuear-old Olongapo native.
“I told them that I can only prepare them for the game but eventually, it all boils down to how you play. So regarding that loss, grow and learn from it.”