ANGELES—Matthew Wright whispered something to Topex Robinson as he raced toward the Phoenix Super LPG bench early in the Fuel Masters’ PBA Philippine Cup debut on Monday at Angeles University Foundation gym here.
“He said he is going to give us this win,” the Fuel Masters coach later said after Wright dropped 36 points on the Bolts and helped the Fuel Masters to a 116-98 victory that had their reboot going off on the right foot against one of the pretournament favorites.
“He is one of those guys who are going to be there for us. He will win us games—just like what happened now,” Robinson said of Wright, who also accounted for six rebounds and four assists.
Starters Jason Perkins and Justin Chua added 17 points each to take advantage of the gaping hole in the middle of the Bolts defense that missed Raymond Almazan.
“We want to be the best version of ourselves no matter the result. So whether we won that or lost that, it’s not who we are. We just want to keep on competing,” said Robinson, whose squad built leads as many as 29 points.
The Bolts were led by old hand in Reynel Hugnatan’s 16 points.
Four more players added double-digit scores, but such a balanced effort came a little too late for the Norman Black-mentored squad.
While he relished the chance of notching the first win of his PBA coaching career at the expense of a coach he looks up to, Robinson told everyone that it’s still too early to celebrate.
“Winning game No. 1 doesn’t make us bubble champions,” he said. “Winning our first game just means that if we’re going to do it right, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win.” INQ
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