On Friday morning, Chito Victolero and the Magnolia Hotshots were facing a huge problem. They feared that they might not have Romeo Travis and Paul Lee for Game Four of the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup semis due to injuries.
“We didn’t know if Romeo and Paul will play today,” rued the second-year Hotshots head coach. “We don’t know.
“Actually, kahapon ‘di namin alam gagawin because namamaga tuhod ni Paul and si Romeo hamstring niya.”
Luckily for them, Travis and Lee were both cleared to play.
And little did the Hotshots know that the 33-year-old forward from Ohio would put on a show for the ages amid the pain, and amid a hostile pro-Ginebra crowd that filled up the majority of the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Travus erupted for 50 big points – including the booming three-point play conversion with 44.1 seconds remaining – to tow his Magnolia to a thrilling 112-108 victory over sister team yet long-time rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
The Hotshots dethroned the Gin Kings from their two-year reign in the Governors’ Cup, and will now be making their second Finals appearance this season after their 2018 Philippine Cup title bout versus the San Miguel Beermen.
“Grabe puso nito ni Romeo, sabi niya sa’min, ‘Coach, don’t worry i’ll do my best it will get better now’,” said Victolero in awe.
“This is my career-high,” Travis said. “But I don’t shoot for career-highs you know, I don’t play that way. But I had to re-invent my game. I wasn’t as mobile, so I had to stay in the paint a lot today.
“Luckily, I was making my touches in the paint.“
Game Four was actually a redemption of sorts for Travis. His 50-point outing was a bounce-back for him from Game Three two nights ago, where he only had a career-low of 12 points while allowing Justin Brownlee to score 46 markers.
Travis and Magnolia lost that outing, 103-107.
“It was definitely a special day for me, I never scored like this before in my life,” said Travis, who has been a pro cager since 2007. “When I get home, I’ll kiss my wife and hug my kids.
“It’s a very special day for me, I’ll never forget it.”
Playing through pain was, indeed, worth it for Travis.
“When you have a lot of pain and it’s worth it [emotional]. I went through a lot of pain to play today and it was worth it. That was emotional, to be able to make it through, get through the pain and make it worth it,” he said.
“It meant a lot to me.”