In just his third year in the PBA, GlobalPort shooting guard Terrence Romeo has emerged as one of the most recognizable figures in the pro league.
The Batang Pier, a four-year-old franchise, has a growing fan base in the PBA, largely because of the flamboyant guard’s rising popularity and all-out approach to the game.
As far as the game is concerned, the 24-year-old Romeo is enjoying his finest season ever with career-high averages of 24.74 points, 3.76 assists and 3.74 rebounds in 35 minutes of play in the ongoing 2015-16 PBA season.
In three seasons, the sweet-shooting guard out of Far Eastern University is already a two-time PBA All Star, won the MVP in last year’s annual mid-year spectacle in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, a two-time Three-Point Shootout champion, while capping the 2015 season as the Most Improved Player.
Last year, Romeo also made a grand introduction in the Asian level with Gilas Pilipinas, which earned silver medals in the 2015 William Jones Cup and the FIBA-Asia men’s championships in Changsa, China.
He was a fan favorite in Taiwan during last year’s Jones Cup, showing his ability to score against bigger, heftier defenders in Asia.
His improved plays also saw him make the final cut in this year’s Gilas roster that made a gallant stand before losing to France and New Zealand in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament last July.
Unforgettable high school feat
But in all his pro basketball achievements since becoming the fifth overall pick of GlobalPort in the 2013 PBA Rookie Draft, Romeo will never forget the day he torched the University of the Philippines Integrated School on August 18, 2009 with a mind-boggling 83 points.
As a 17-year-old lad, who made his transition from Letran to FEU, Romeo peppered his defenders with an array of shots–three-pointers, baskets from mid-range and driving layup.
His penchant to dazzle the fans with his dribbling skills was also in full display.
And by the time the final buzzer sounded, Romeo, who had 30 points by halftime, surpassed the previous UAAP juniors scoring record of 69 points held incidentally by former UP high school gunner Paolo Mendoza in 1994.
Romeo converted 34-of-64 field goal attempts, went 5-for-22 from the three-point zone and sank 10 of his 13 foul shots.
The FEU Baby Tamaraws coach Horacio Lim was credited for toying on the idea of letting Romeo go for the record against the hapless UPIS.
“Isa yun (UAAP new junior scoring record of 83 points) sa sobrang memorable na nangyari sa basketball career ko sa juniors kasi di pa nabe-break yung record ko,” Romeo said, looking back proudly on an individual scoring feat that may take years again before it can be erased.
Romeo actually outscored the entire UPIS team, which could only muster 55 points in the one-sided match.
But the shifty Romeo isn’t claiming sole credit for such a remarkable achievement.
“Masaya ako na nakagawa ako ng record, sa tulong ng mga teammates ko at tulong ng coaches ko,” he said.
Although a known scorer, who will get his points by hook or by crook, Romeo saw his game mature little by little through the influences he has had in the next seen years when he moved over to the seniors level and through the PBA.
Romeo brought his scorer’s mentality when he became the central figure of the FEU Tamaraws in the seniors level.
In his sophomore year in the UAAP, Romeo helped FEU reach the Finals in 2011 season, though the Tamaraws were the swept by the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 2-0 in the best-of-three championship setto.
He capped his collegiate career with an MVP in the 2014 season under the guidance of Nash Racela.
During his first three years in the PBA, he had he chance to learn from veteran guards like Sol Mercado and Alex Cabagnot, who became his teammates for a while at GlobalPort.
But there’s no doubt that his inclusion at Gilas made him a better, deadlier player because of the inputs he acquired from the likes of national coach Tab Baldwin, Ginebra playmaker LA Tenorio and even TNT combo guard Jayson Castro, who was named Best Point Guard in Asia in 2013 and 2015.
Among the many people who influenced his game, Romeo cited Castro as the yardstick in terms of shooting.
“Para sa akin, si kuya Jayson na yun sa mga guards na best shooter ngayon. Kasi on the dribble saka kumbaga maganda yung shooting ni kuya Jayson,” noted Romeo.
Tenorio said it is understandable for Romeo to struggle transitioning into a playmaker at Gilas since the latter was used to being the go-to-guy since high school.
“Converted to one siya eh kaya mahirap. All throughout his career, scorer siya eh, pero sinasabi ko sa kanya, (scoring) threat ka na eh and once na nakita mo na threat ka na, make sure na if there’s an opportunity, go,” Tenorio shared.
“Pero pag wala (opportunity to score), sige, i-distribute mo muna yung bola kasi in any given time, kaya mo kunin yung bola saka puwede mo kunin or itira kasi point guard ka,” he added.
“Importante is pasayhin mo muna lahat ng mga yan, kasi in the end, ikaw ang magiging masaya kasi pag nakatira na silang lahat at walang nangyari, ikaw na ang (next scoring) option.”
In the ongoing Governors Cup, Romeo has dished off at least six or more assists four times in the Batang Pier’s first seven games, a huge jump considering that he averaged less than three dimes in his first two years as a pro. – Richard Dy
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