MANILA, Philippines -- Topex Robinson said he took a leap of faith in turning down a contract extension with Phoenix Super LPG before being assured of the head coaching position in De La Salle University.
Robinson coached the Fuel Masters for two years but officially parted ways with the team on January 12. A week later, he was appointed as head coach of the Green Archers, marking his return to college basketball after previously coaching Lyceum of the Philippines University in the NCAA.
"It's 28 years in the making," Robinson told former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala of his journey to La Salle, on Saturday's "Power and Play" episode.
"When I used to play for San Sebastian back in 1995, dinadaanan namin palagi 'yung Taft, which is where La Salle is. So, hindi ko po talaga makakalimutan. Every time po dumadaan kami doon, sabi ko, 'Sana makalaro ako dito'," he recalled.
"Pangarap ko po talaga [ang La Salle]," he added.
Robinson told Eala that Phoenix Super LPG gave him a "really nice offer" in terms of a contract extension, but he could not pass up the opportunity to apply for the La Salle job once he was informed that he was on the university's short list.
"On December 27, somebody messaged me na, 'You're on the shortlist.' I don't know how that shortlist looks like, pero I'm sure marami po 'yun," he said. "Come January, first week ng January, doon na po talaga nagkaroon ng kumbaga, kaunting galawan na totoo na po."
He stressed that he was honest with the Phoenix Super LPG management about the situation and the two sides came to an understanding. He opted against signing a contract extension with the Fuel Masters despite having no guarantee from La Salle.
"Wala po talagang nangyaring promises," said Robinson. "Sinabi nila sa akin, they were straight. 'Coach, we have a few names that has to go through a process' … I messaged the manager, 'Sir, I'm deciding not to sign with Phoenix, I'm gonna put everything. No guarantees, but I'm gonna commit to it'."
When La Salle eventually gave him the job, it was a dream come true for the 48-year-old Robinson who has been a fan of the Green Archers since his collegiate days.
"Idol ko po si Johnny Abarrientos growing up, when he was with FEU, pero La Salle po talaga ang gusto ko. I don't know why -- maybe it's the atmosphere, maybe it's the people," he said. "That's what I told the brothers -- I was a fan of La Salle ever since."
"I'm not closing my doors to the PBA," Robinson added. "[But La Salle is] my dream school. So talaga pong I took the risk."
With an opportunity to finally coach his dream school, Robinson said that his full commitment is now with the Green Archers. He is tasked with bringing La Salle back to the top of the UAAP, especially after a disappointing Season 85 campaign where they missed out on the Final 4.
Robinson will have in his roster reigning Rookie of the Year Kevin Quiambao, chief playmaker Evan Nelle, and brothers Michael and Benjamin Phillips.
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.