With Abueva out, Topex left with team that he likes

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    THE departure of Calvin Abueva should have positive repercussions for Phoenix Super LPG.

    Coach Topex Robinson said the Abueva trade touched off a series of events that enabled him to come up with a Fuel Masters squad more to his liking.

    The final pieces should come through next month’s Rookie Draft where Phoenix comes armed with a handful of picks.

    “Medyo masaya naman sa mga nangyari,” said Robinson. “Hindi lang kami nagkaroon ng kapalit ni Calvin. Nakakuha rin kami ng (Chris) Banchero, mayroon pa kaming seventh pick. And we got to keep our two second round picks.”

    Robinson had earlier explained the decision to let go of Abueva, whom he considers as his own son, was a tough one but had to be done to put the former NCAA MVP and PBA Rookie of the Year awardee in a better position to fulfill his wish of winning more championships.

    But Robinson was also looking at the bigger picture for the Phoenix team he inherited from former coach Louie Alas just before the 2020 Philippine Cup bubble in Pampanga.
    “The grand plan of the Calvin trade, really, is to get Vic,” Robinson said. “I didn’t want to

    say anything before because I knew it was a big gamble and it may not work out in the long run. But life is also about taking risks and I felt this was one I had to take.

    “Of course, I consulted with management and I’m really thankful for their support and trust in me.”

    Robinson said everything started falling into place when Abueva was traded to Magnolia last Feb. 17, with Phoenix getting Banchero and the Hotshots’ picks in the first two rounds in the coming draft.

    Just minutes after news of the trade came out, Phoenix got a call from Alaska, exploring the possibility of a trade for Manuel, who has publicly announced he wanted out of the Aces due to a contract dispute.

    “When we let go of Calvin, we immediately got a call back,” related Robinson. “Eto na, ‘yung kay Vic.”

    Manuel first signed a one-year deal with Alaska Monday night and was then promptly shipped to Phoenix along with Alaska’s first (7th) and second (18th) round picks. The Aces got Brian Heruela as well as Phoenix’s picks at Nos. 6 and 19 overall, and the Fuel Masters’ first round pick next year.

    The No. 7 pick may be a rung down from the one Phoenix additionally got from Magnolia in the Abueva trade, but no less valuable for Robinson in the light of the loaded list of draft applicants.

    “Kung sa regular draft, like in the past, itong No. 7 is like getting No. 4, No. 3?” posed Robinson.

    “With the talent there, that’s good for us. Kasi nakakuha kami ng legitimate post threat with Vic, na wala kami last time and we now have a legitimate point guard in Chris Banchero na wala kami last conference.”

    Robinson admitted he plans on using their first round pick to nab a big man who could complement Justin Chua, Jason Perkins and the comebacking Jake Pascual since he is all set in the guard position with Banchero joining Matthew Wright, RR Garcia and RJ Jazul.

    “May mga tinitingnan na kami, but we’ll wait until nandiyan na final list (of eligible draft applicants) before we make our final decision,” he said.