PBA: Phoenix sacks coach Louie Alas, appoints Topex Robinson on interim role

Published September 11, 2020, 7:27 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Louie Alas steered Phoenix to its first semifinal appearance during the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup. (PBA Images)

Phoenix Super LPG on Friday severed ties with coach Louie Alas after two seasons highlighted by a breakthrough semifinal appearance during the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup.

The Fuel Masters said in a statement that assistant Topex Robinson will take over on an interim basis after management decided to “discontinue” the service of Alas.

“With the possibility of a PBA restart, the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters have began discussions on its future plans. After much deliberation, management has decided to discontinue Mr. Louie Alas’ services as head coach,” the team said.

“In the meantime, the Management has appointed associate head coach Topex Robinson to take the functions as Head Coach on an interim basis until such time. We believe in Coach Topex’s capacity to lead this team and we look forward to the Fuel Masters’ resurgence as one of the league’s exciting contenders.”

Alas was let go on the day he was supposed to return from a team-imposed 15-day suspension for violating safety protocols during practice.

The three-time NCAA champion mentor with Letran and the architect of the Manila Metrostars’ 1999 MBA title run, guided the Fuel Masters to a 35-39 record during his first PBA coaching tenure.

The highlight of his stint was when he led Phoenix to a semifinal run in the 2019 Philippine Cup with a roster powered by Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins.

Phoenix went 9-2 to top the eliminations before losing to eventual champion San Miguel Beer 4-1.

It remains as the franchise’s best finish since entering the league in 2016.

But the Fuel Masters struggled in the next two conferences after Abueva was banned indefinitely for a pair of misconducts in the early part of the Commissioner’s Cup.

Alas was supposed to begin his third season as Phoenix bench tactician but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of games.

The sacking prompted his son, NLEX guard Kevin Alas, to lash out at Phoenix management through a Facebook post.

“You did not defend your suspended player, then you do not renew several of your players this year. Some just can’t speak up because of course, they’re thinking of their families. I understand that this is a business but man, don’t expect to win if that’s how you treat your employees — as if they are disposable,” said Alas.

“Really blessed that I play under an organization that treats me with love and respect,” added Alas, who has since deleted his post.