Terrence the terrific
Pido Jarencio was such a great scorer during his days in the UAAP and the PBA that he was often asked by his coach to take over the game when the chips were down for his team.
After ending his collegiate career at University of Santo Tomas as one of the best scoring guards in UAAP history, and after leaving his mark as a deadshot in the pros, Jarencio instinctively coached the same way he was coached.
And the first thing he did was look for a talent of his caliber in every team he handled.
At GlobalPort, Jarencio found one—Terrence Romeo, a talent he concedes is far better than he was when he played in the PBA.
“Terrence is a once-in-a-generation talent that we are lucky to see,” says Jarencio, himself a one-time Finals MVP with Añejo Rhum and the first player to shoot eight triples in a title series game.
Romeo came out for this PBA Season a bit heavier than he was last year and scoring heavier than he ever did before. In fact, the former Far Eastern University star is burning the hoops at a rate no player—homegrown or not— has done so in the PBA in the last 17 years, at a time when the hulking players with foreign blood have turned the PBA into their playground.
“I’ve browsed through my files and found no one who has scored that much in a conference,” PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III says. “I am already into the 2000 season and no one even comes close [to Romeo].”
GlobalPort bowed out of the quarterfinals of the ongoing Philippine Cup, losing to TNT KaTropa, 2-0, but Romeo left an indelible mark by finishing the conference with a whopping average of 28.2 points.
If Romeo ends the season averaging that much, only two men before him would have scored more—Danny Florencio, who tossed in 32 points a game in 1977, and Chip Engelland, who played one season for guest team NCC and finished with 29 a game in 1984.
Opposing coaches are dumbfounded by Romeo’s talent, especially in the last two seasons when he decided to train on his own to better his craft.
Jong Uichico, a nine-time champion coach who called the shots when TNT KaTropa won its last title, says he “cannot compare Romeo” to any of the all-time greats. Make no mistake about it, Uichico’s statement is actually a compliment for the 5-foot-10 point guard.
“There’s just nobody like him,” Uichico says. “There’s no one [before him] who was as explosive and as multi-dimensional [offensively] as he is. I was around a number of all-time greats and I never saw anyone as good as he is.”
Uichico likens Romeo to someone as short, maybe as brash, and definitely as explosive—but that man’s not in the PBA. “The closest player that comes to my mind is Allen Iverson,” the coach says. “He’s small and lean and yet he can break down any defense thrown at him. Believe me, while I was at TNT, we tried every defense in the book [against Romeo] to no avail.
“He would still come up with 30-plus points and frustrate the [opposing] coaching staff all game.”
Jarencio has seen Romeo improve by leaps and bounds ever since he was drafted by the Batang Pier of port magnate Mikee Romero four years ago.
“Terrence’s success can be attributed to his work ethic,” says Jarencio, now the head of GlobalPort’s basketball operations. “He really wants to excel. He has worked hard on his physical conditioning that he can now take the kinds of body contact in the PBA.
“That’s why he’s very successful. It didn’t come overnight for him, and he has the full support of boss Mikee and agent Nino Reyes.”
Another aspect that has made Romeo probably the best player in the Philippine Cup was his improved ability to distribute the ball. He finished No. 2 in the assists department with 6.1, just behind San Miguel Beer’s Chris Ross.
“That shows you how dedicated he is to improving his game,” Uichico explains. “It’s not just the offense, but the all-around numbers.”
Jarencio and Uichico believe that Romeo will eventually carve his niche in the league.
“But he has to win championships,” Uichico says. “All-time greats have won a bunch of championships. But at the rate he is going, he’s more than a one-man team now. Those championships will come.”
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