If there’s one thing that defines Romeo Travis’ return to the PBA, it’s redemption.
The memories of the 2015 Governors’ Cup are still ingrained in the mind of the 33-year-old. Back then, Travis was with the Alaska Aces, and he had a solid campaign with the Milkmen, where he was eventually crowned as the Best Import.
But it was a run defined by a stinging setback. Travis and Alaska made it all the way to the Big Dance, but an AZ Reid-reinforced San Miguel Beermen were too much for them to handle. They lost in a four-game sweep.
Things were more difficult for Travis because he felt like he wasn’t able to live up to his billing as the best import.
“Last time I was here I laid an egg,” recalled the American-Macedonian, who posted norms of 24.1 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game during his Alaska stint.
“I played very bad last time I was in the Finals.”
Three years later, Travis has earned a chance to redeem himself from that disappointing defeat.
This time though, he isn’t wearing the red and white Alaska uniform. Travis is now with the Magnolia Hotshots, another storied franchise. But as he did with the Aces, he has helped his new team reach the Promised Land.
Travis poured his heart out in Game Four of the 2018 Governors’ Cup semifinals. He torched the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with 50 points to tow Magnolia to a 112-108 victory and book the team’s second Finals trip this season.
“I want redemption, that’s why I came back,” said Travis, who was in France prior to signing with Magnolia last July.
Though he shone the brightest in that semifinal closer that brought an end to the Gin Kings’ two-year reign in the season-ending conference, Travis insisted that it was their chemistry that led them to where they are now.
“I looked at the roster and I’ve seen they had good veterans and hungry young guys. It was a great mix. With me, it was just an opportunity to gel with the team. I didn’t want to take over, I just wanted to be part of the team,” he said.
“These guys have allowed me to be part of the team, and that’s what makes this team special. It’s the chemistry. They know I’m not a guy that’s going to demand the ball and curse at somebody if I don’t get the ball,” added Travis.
“That’s not who am I as a person and as a player. We’re one unit right now, we’re really clicking.”
Given that, Travis has a great chance of exorcising the ghosts of the pasts. But fate can sometimes be weird, as LeBron James’ teammate in St. Vincent-St. Mary High will be facing his former team in a best-of-seven series.
The Aces booked the last Finals ticket last Saturday after dealing the Meralco Bolts – the Gin Kings’ opponents in the last two Governors’ Cup Finals – a crushing 99-92 defeat behind the efforts of Mike Harris and their reliable locals.
“Good luck to [Chris] Banchero, Vic Manuel… these are my guys,” said Travis.
“I hope they do well.”