Ask any casual PBA fan what he or she thinks of Terrence Romeo and you’re likely to get a response at either extreme of the love-hate scale:
“Ang galing niya! Pure scorer!”
“Ayoko yan, bwakaw eh”
“The best 1-on-1 scorer in the league – hands down”
“Magaling sana pero… di siya namamasa eh”
It’s probably that last quip that best captures the general public’s opinion of the GlobalPort guard. Fresh off an MVP campaign during the 76th season of the UAAP, Romeo burst out with guns blazing, as he looked to score every single time he touched the ball.
To his credit, Romeo showed off some sweet handles and a nice outside shot but faded as the season progressed, as his body broke down over the grind of the season. Let’s not forget that the PBA is one of the most physical leagues in the world, and for an undersized guard who has a penchant for annoying opponents (who in turn have retaliated with hard “grown-ass man” fouls), this finally led to him sitting out the latter half of the Governor’s Cup. He eventually ended the season averaging 12.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, and 2.2 apg in 27.0 minutes per game, pretty solid figures by any measure.
After dedicating the off-season to fixing his diet and getting into superb shape, we’re starting to see its effect on his game. He’s currently averaging 15.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 2.3 apg on 39.0 FG% in just 25.0 minutes per game.
There are two reasons why he’s been getting slightly less minutes this season.
The first reason is because Terrence has the tendency to break plays and jack up less-than-ideal shots, like this one:
Of course sometimes he makes them…
… but this wasn’t quite what former Coach Pido was looking for. Jarencio had a short leash, pulling Romeo once he got a little too trigger happy. I’m personally glad that he resorted to this, because this should help Terrence focus on his shot selection and learn to play within the system.
The second reason is because GlobalPort has two other talented guards in Stanley Pringle and Alex Cabagnot. Both players are highly effective and high usage players, so it would make sense to allot the two players big minutes at the 1 and 2 spot. Coach Jarencio experimented with playing all three at the same time, but this somewhat limits their effectiveness as a group, as all three are the types who need the ball in their hands. To counter this, Pido tried to play only two of the three at a time, spreading the minutes amongst the three guards along with spitfire guard Ronjay Buenafe. It remains to be seen whether interim coach Eric Gonazales will follow the same substitution pattern.
This brings up an interesting theory: is being a 6th man Terrence Romeo’s destiny?
After an initial adjustment period coming off the bench where he averaged just 3.3 ppg on 12.5% shooting, Terrence has been lights out the past two games, averaging 28 ppg on 52.6% field goal shooting while drawing 6 free-throws per game.
The benefits of bringing Romeo off the bench are numerous.
For one, it allows him to read the game and see what’s happening. Second, once he comes in with the rest of the bench, he will be the primary scorer since he won’t need to share the ball with Cabagnot and Pringle. Chances are he also won’t be pit against the opponent’s best perimeter defender, as he’d most likely be placed on to guard Stanley or Alex in the first group.
The truth is that Terrence Romeo is a very talented scorer. He’s at his best when he has the ball in his hands and is creating. If Terrence can rein in his shot selection and learn to get his opportunities within the flow of the offense, he could be a really effective off-the-bench scorer in the mold of Vinny “the Microwave” Johnson or Jamal Crawford. The only question is whether or not Terrence can embrace this role.