After six years as a pro, Terrence Romeo finally enters the Big Dance.
Romeo will make his first PBA Finals trip after the San Miguel Beermen closed out the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters, 105-94, in Game Five of their 2019 Philippine Cup semifinal series, Thursday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The flamboyant scorer had a huge impact on the win. He drilled a pull-up jumper with 1:08 left to play, dousing the Fuel Masters’ fiery run that saw them knock within four after going down 25 in the third.
Romeo finished with 10 markers. He averaged 13.0 points on 35 percent shooting in the series.
Beermen leaders Arwind Santos and June Mar Fajardo admit they’re both happy and excited for the three-time scoring champion. They also believe that Romeo will be more motivated to perform in the Finals.
“Malamang mas tataas ang kumpiyansa niya, at isa yun sa magpapalakas sa San Miguel,” said Santos of his fellow Far Eastern University alumnus.
“Si Terrence ‘pag tumaas ang kumpiyansa, mas mahirap kaming talunin, sinasabi ko.”
Meanwhile, reigning five-time MVP Fajardo added, “Kailangan namin siya, ‘yung [Game] Four nga siya ‘yung best player (20 points, 17 straight in the third quarter). Sana tuluy-tuloy ang level ng laro niya, malaking factor siya sa amin.”
Romeo has long dreamed of making it to the grandest stage in Philippine basketball. He came close in the 2016 Philippine Cup, but his GlobalPort Batang Pier lost to the Alaska Aces in five games in the semis.
It’s known to many that his stints with GlobalPort and later on TNT KaTropa have only resulted in disappointments. He has also long been frustrated over this, since he’s one of the fiercest competitors in the league today.
But gone are those days, Fajardo and Santos both attest.
“Sobrang proud kami sa kanya,” said Fajardo, who’s shared numerous battles with Romeo in Gilas Pilipinas. “‘Yung maturity niya… Hindi na siya nakikipag-away. Ngayon marunong na siyang [mag-control], hindi na siya pumapatol.”
“Si Terrence alam naman natin na ‘di pa ganun kaganda ang nilalaro,” said Santos.
“Pero tignan mo, ilang beses na naco-control niya yung game, napapanalo niya. Pwede namin ibigay sa kanya one time ang laban at kaya niyang ipanalo.”