Terrence Romeo is ‘special,’ says coach and veteran teammates
MANILA, Philippines — Terrence Romeo has been many things since the UAAP. He’s been the King Tamaraw, the scorer, and one-half of a formidable backcourt duo. But now, two games into the pros and living his dream, Romeo is something new.
He is ‘special.’
That much is certain for his Globalport Batang Pier coach Ritchie Ticzon, who made his first trip to the pressroom after they demolished the Air21 Express, 114-100, on Saturday, November 23 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“He's really special. Everybody knows that,” Ticzon told reporters. “Even in the UAAP we already knew that he was really special.”
Romeo’s hot hands did all the damage as he spearheaded Globalport’s offensive punch with 34 points built on 6 triples, 4-of-8 field goals, and a near-perfect 8-of-9 from the stripe.
After scoring 6 points in the first period and only two in the second, Romeo appeared to have completely shed his uncertain, anxious rookie demeanor in the second half.
He went on a tear from all areas of the floor the moment the buzzer signaled the beginning of the third canto.
“Lagi ko lang nilalagay sa isip ko positive lang,” he explained his thoughts heading into the final two periods. “Kahit po ano nangyayari sa game, hangga't di pa po nagbu-buzzer, di pa po tapos yung game, positive lang.”
(I always think positive. Whatever is happening in the game, as long as the final buzzer hasn’t sounded and the game is not yet over, I stay positive.)
Throughout the first half, Air21 breathed down Globalport’s neck constantly and only allowed them a hairline of a lead, 47-46, at the break. But it was due to Romeo that the Batang Pier finally broke away from Air21 in the third.
His nifty three-point stroke was on full display as he drained a triple at the 8:57 mark of the third to shove Globalport ahead, 55-54. It proved to be the turning point that sparked a quick and lethal 8-0 run, which included another trey from Jondan Salvador as well as an and-one play from Jay Washington who had 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Air21 never recovered as they succumbed to 26 of Romeo’s total 34 points, which he uncorked in the second half.
There was a significant disparity on the offensive boards as well, 19-12, which resulted to 17 second-chance points for Globalport against Air21’s 11.
Nearing the end of the third, Air21 had chipped away at the once double-digit lead, 80-74, as KG Canaleta made a living on the charity line for his 11 points. But a Romeo trey with 12 seconds before the payoff period sent the lead back up to 9.
Early in the final canto, Romeo showed a little more of his expected rookie errors as he fouled RenRen Ritualo while taking a three. But just as Ritualo sank all freebies, Romeo made up for his mishap immediately on the other end by swishing in another triple to get the points back.
Asked where he gets his confidence despite being a rookie, Romeo said: “Siguro every day sa practice. Lagi ko binibigay yung best [ko]. Tsaka lagi ko po gusto matuto.” (Maybe every day in practice. I always give my best. And I always want to learn.)
Veteran guard Sol Mercado sees that eagerness to learn as one of Romeo’s assets. In fact, Mercado sees plenty of things in Romeo, including himself.
“Honestly, he reminds me a lot of me in my rookie year because when I first came in the league I was just like him,” he said, also mentioning that he has been giving advice to Romeo based on his own personal experience.
“Everyone tried to change my game. And I just pull him aside every time [and tell him] don't let no one change your game. You are a special talent. You can't teach what you have. Just go with it, I'll guide you.”
Because Mercado sees the potential of Romeo, he has gladly taken on a new role in the team as mentor to the reigning UAAP MVP.
“I'm just taking him under my wings, my little protégé. I'm proud of him tonight. He made good decisions, he was hitting his shots and he put a big smile on my face,” Mercado spoke proudly.
Even veteran bigman Eric Menk was impressed with the rookie out of FEU, saying that although they don’t want to get too excited, he knows “he’s gonna be good.”
Aside from giving pieces of advice on the technicalities of the game, Mercado has taken it upon himself to be a motivator and more like a friend to Romeo as well.
He shared how he has been giving Romeo more confidence in instructing teammates, whether rookie or veteran, when it comes to calling plays or simply waving off the screens.
“It's fun to see his growth every single day. And he wants to learn, that's how I know he's special,” Mercado said. “Someone who wants to learn like that is gonna be great in this league for a long time.”
Whether he heaved it from beyond the arc, near the baseline, or from the 15-foot line, Romeo’s offensive flare was unstoppable for this game. By the time he was reinserted in the middle of the fourth to thwart any last ditch comeback from the Express, he already had Globalport fans chanting his name inside the Big Dome.
His signature multiple crossover dribbles ending in a stepback jumper was a known killer in the UAAP. Now, he’s carrying it over to the big league as well. Even his signature hairstyle is beginning to grow on people.
While he is adamant about not cutting his hair short, a trim before the game might have actually made a difference for Romeo.
“Actually nagpagupit nga po ako. Kasi po nung first game baba po ng baba eh. Eh hindi po ako sanay eh, kaya ngayon po tinataas ko na.” (Actually, I had my haircut. In the first game it kept coming down. I’m not used to it, so I put it up instead.) –Rappler.com
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