It seemed like Phoenix head coach Topex Robinson has a keen eye for talents among the aspiring players during the draft night, evident with the performances of his second-round picks Tyler Tio and Encho Serrano.
The two guards, polar opposites in terms of their brand of play but bond perfectly on the court, have earned the trust of Robinson and have become solid contributors to Fuel Masters who are trying to recover from the departure of former star Matthew Wright and the injury of big man Jason Perkins.
They even emerged as the catalysts to Phoenix’s stunning 101-93 upset of Ginebra with Tio providing the calming presence and leadership, patiently running the offense and nailing big baskets from the distance while Serrano showed grit and tenacity with his daredevil drives and hustle plays.
Robinson, who likewise was a late draft pick when he was selected in the third round in 2001, knew exactly what he was getting from both Tio (14th overall) and Serrano (19th) when he decided to pick them at the 2022 draft ceremony.
“When Tyler landed on my lap at No. 14, I was dreaming about getting him that's why when I saw him there I told him you're gonna start, I haven't even called his name but I already told him he's gonna start during the draft that you're going to be the starter in this team,” he said of Tio who finished with 17 points and seven assists in the victory.
“I get excited every time Encho attacks the baskets. I just don't know what he's gonna do, that's the beauty of it but he was somebody that's passed on so it's motivation for him so now he's reaping the benefits,” Robinson, meanwhile, said of Serrano who added 16 points.
For someone who entered the league the same way the two did, Robinson has been continuously motivating to the two young guns, urging them to just leave it all out on the floor and make the most of the opportunity given to them and prove their worth.
Robinson was glad the two are making great strides early in their PBA careers.
“He just proved just to grab the opportunity and try to hold it as long as he could and leaps and bounds for his potential. He has RJ Jazul, RR Garcia backing him up so what more could you ask for from a rookie to have the veterans supporting you,” Robinson said of Tio.
“I just told him to hold on to that opportunity because if you don't hold on to it somebody will take it and they will not be giving it back to you,” he told Serrano.