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Terrence Romeo, right, is consoled by coach Chot Reyes, yet to return to national team duty back then, after Gilas Pilipinas lost to China during the 2015 Rio Olympics qualifier in Changsha. (Carlo Pamintuan/Sports5 | Manila Bulletin) Terrence Romeo, right, is consoled by coach Chot Reyes, yet to return to national team duty back then, after Gilas Pilipinas lost to China during the 2015 Rio Olympics qualifier in Changsha. (Carlo Pamintuan/Sports5 | Manila Bulletin)
August 12th, 2017 | 08:59 AM | 1299 views
Terrence Romeo felt like a vindicated man Wednesday night after delivering the game of his life in Gilas Pilipinas’ stunning 96-87 victory over China in its opening assignment in the FIBA Asia Cup, a moment that put away the bitter feeling of almost two years ago when the Nationals fell short in the finals.
The GlobalPort Batang Pier star delivered 26 points, including eight in the final four minutes that enabled Gilas to avoid a meltdown after the Chinese cagers crawled back from a 17-point deficit to lead by three points.
His late-game heroics in Beirut, Lebanon perhaps buried the painful memory of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship when Gilas was beaten by the same country which hosted the Rio Olympics qualifier that ended in early-October in Changsha.
Carlo Pamintuan, who followed Gilas behind the scenes for Sports5, later posted a photo showing Romeo being comforted by now Gilas coach Chot Reyes, who back then was taking a break from handling the national team. Twenty-three months later, the two conspired to exact revenge on the Chinese.
“Feeling ko na-impress na si Chot sa performance ni Terrence and tingin niya magiging vital yung role ni Terrence sa Gilas moving forward,” Pamintuan said when the Bulletin asked him of that moment between Romeo and Reyes.
Romeo’s role was indeed vital for a Gilas team that went into the Lebanese capital feeling the absence of naturalized player Andray Blatche and center June Mar Fajardo likely out with a strained right calf.
Romeo told Sports5’s Jutt Sulit that he had encircled Aug. 11 in his calendar, believing that he can make good on his promise to even terms with China.
He had done so in a pocket tournament in Europe, scoring late baskets that gave Gilas a victory. However, exhibition games feel less of an importance, and the day finally came Wednesday night.
“Nung tinawag ako para mag-represent ulit ng bansa at nalaman ko na first game is China, wala akong sinayang na oras. Pinasok ko sa isip ko na never akong matatakot sa kanila, never akong magdududa sa kakayahan ko,” Romeo said, as quoted by Sports5.ph.
Romeo hardly showed emotion right from the onset as he took part in strong Gilas start that left China wondering what hit them. He was making most of his baskets – usually off crossover dribbles that earned him the adulation of many back home.
He made several more in the second half amid China’s gradual attempt to cut the margin. And when Gilas was looking like it was headed for defeat, Romeo took matters into his own hands.
Romeo ignited a 12-0 windup with a game-tying three, then hit a stepback jumper from near the foul line to give Gilas the lead, 89-87, with 2:49 left, prompting him to scream as loud as he could – the first time he had shown his emotional side.
Then the backbreaker came with about two minutes left, hitting another three this time from about 25 feet, letting out a smile while hugging Jayson Castro after extending Gilas’ lead to 92-87.
It looked as if the wounds of 2015 had already been mended. Romeo was perhaps the happiest man that night, but that sense of fulfillment was set aside immediately, knowing that tougher battles lie ahead for Gilas.
courtesy of MANILA BULLETIN
by Jonas Terrado
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