Barangay Ginebra mentor Tim Cone was gracious enough to share the Outstanding PBA Coach of the Bubble trophy to a person he thought was just as deserving.
The most accomplished coach in league history acknowledged Phoenix counterpart Topex Robinson for the way he whipped the Fuel Masters into a competitive team in so short a time during the Philippine Cup bubble.
Phoenix was the second seeded team going to the playoffs behind Barangay Ginebra, and fell just short of making the finals for the first time in franchise history when it lost to TNT Tropang Giga in their do-or-die Game 5 during the semifinals.
“He did such a tremendous job in the bubble coaching. So I just want to acknowledge him and share this award with him and that’s Topex Robinson,” said Cone in his acceptance speech during the PBA Press Corps virtual Awards Night Sunday at the TV5 Media Center. “Topex did a tremendous job with his team as well, so Topex this one is for you as well. All the best.”
The Kings eventually beat the Tropang Giga in five games during the best-of-seven finals to win the first ever bubble championship of the league.
But despite his team’s success, Cone thought Robinson would win the special award given out by the group which covers the PBA beat.
“I thought he was going to win the award. I’m quite surprised to win (the award) because Topex took on a team, integrated (Calvin) Abueva, and did so many good things and went all the way to the end. They just lost out in the last few minutes of that TNT series,” said the Ginebra coach during the awards proceedings presented by Cignal TV.
Cone was among the few honorees who personally received their awards, along with 2019 Baby Dalupan Coach of the Year Leo Austria of San Miguel Beer, 2019 Danny Floro Executive of the Year Board Chairman Ricky Vargas, and Commissioner Willie Marcial, who was the recipient of the Mr. Executive title.
Austria also credited San Miguel’s success during the 44th to all his players after coming short of clinching a rare grand slam following their success in the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup, respectively.
Congratulatory video messages were extended by Lourdes Dalupan, widow of the late ‘Maestro’ of Philippine basketball coaching, and Bones Floro, grandson of the late team owner of the fabled Crispa Redmanizers, to all the major winners.
Meanwhile, Bulakan, Bulacan Mayor and 25 PBA Greatest Players member Vergel Meneses looked back with fondness on his colorful playing career when he received the 2019 President’s Award, while Vargas accepted the same honor in behalf of the 12 teams which made possible the resumption of the 45th season in Clark, Pampanga.
NorthPort veteran Sean Anthony was also honored with the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year award.
The rest of the 2020 top performers Justine Chua (Top Bubble D-Fender) Al-Bubble D-Fenders Calvin Abueva, Chris Ross, Mark Barroca, Christian Standhardinger, and Chua), RJ Jazul (Mr. Quality Minutes), CJ Perez (Scoring Champ), Barangay Ginebra-Meralco Game 5 semis (Game of the Bubble) and the All-Rookie Team of Aaron Black, Arvin Tolentino, Roosevelt Adams, Barkley Ebona, and Renzo Subido.
A special was also handed out to the PBA staff, received by Deputy Commissioner Eric Castro, for its non-stop work to ensure the well-being of the Clark bubble.
The rest of the 2019 batch of awardees on the other hand, were comprised of Terrence Romeo (Mr. Quality Minutes), June Mar Fajardo (Order of Merit), Perez (Scoring Champion), NorthPort vs. NLEX (Game of the Season), Perez, Robert Bolick, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., Javee Mocon, and Abu Tratter (All-Rookie Team), Kiefer Ravena, Standhardinger, Beau Belga, Vic Manuel, Arwind Santos, and coach Yeng Guiao (All-Interview Team), and PBA D-League Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena (Aspirants’ Cup) and Hased Gabo (Foundation Cup).