‘Humble’ Romeo impresses as he tries to crack Gilas line-up
There’s a lot to like about Terrence Romeo’s game these days and national team head coach Tab Baldwin offered more reasons not to hate the Globalport guard.
Romeo is part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool competing for a spot in the final lineup which will be in China next month for the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship and Baldwin had high praise for the budding All-Star.
“I like him. I think Terrence has some X-factor qualities and I think he’s one of the most competitive guys we’ve got in the environment,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin also serves as consultant for the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters. The American-New Zealander coach saw what Romeo can do on the basketball court being the Batang Pier’s main offensive option and he also witnessed the former Far Eastern University standout lead in the recently-concluded Fiba World Tour Manila Masters.
“What I watched him do in the 3-on-3 was really inspirational. He felt he had to takeover games and he has the ability to do that,” said Baldwin.
New role with Gilas
But in the international stage where the game is more team-oriented, relying heavily on one or two players is a recipe for disaster. And that’s where Romeo, arguably the best one-on-one player in the league today, will need to make the adjustments as he makes the transition from getting the ball almost every offensive trip with Globalport to relishing a different role with Gilas.
“International ball with the team filled with very strong players around him, there’s less of a need of that but it’s nice to know that’s there if ever we want to push that button,” Baldwin said of Romeo’s mentality of taking charge.
Romeo’s talent is unquestionable but what impressed Baldwin more about the one-time UAAP MVP is his personality.
“His attitude is just great. He’s a very humble kid. He’s very respectful and he wants to learn. Spends a lot of time with Jimmy (Alapag) and Jayson (Castro). And these are all tremendous qualities. This is a kid who’s gonna have a future in the Gilas program.”
The 23-year-old Romeo said it’s been a big privilege and honor to be learning a lot in practice from assistant coach Jimmy Alapag.
“He gives me pointers where I can attack and pass to open teammates with the dribble drive offense coach Tab runs,” Romeo said in Filipino. “It’s really been a huge privilege and an honor that ‘kuya’ Jimmy is the one who is teaching me because he has the experience and he knows how to play in the international game. I’m very thankful for his guidance.”
Alapag, who is coming out of retirement, couldn’t help but marvel at his student.
“I remember when I was that fast,” Alapag, speaking of Romeo, said with a laugh. “He’s incredibly talented and to see him have this opportunity where Gilas is at right now, competing for an Olympic bid in less that two months time, I mean, I would’ve dreamed for that position when I was his age.”
“So if I’m gonna be here with him whatever I can do to make his transition smoother and make him an even more lethal weapon that he already is on the basketball court that’s why I’m here,” Alapag added.
The former Gilas captain also feels Romeo will be one of the Philippines’ biggest weapons when the tournament comes with the rest of Asia having limited knowledge about him.
“It’s always tough when you got a guy like Terrence who’s so talented and Fiba teams have really never seen him before and that will be a big plus,” he said.
The competition starts on September 23 and at this point until that time, Alapag is just helping Romeo to get better in every way he knows.
“The important thing now is continuing to work and really maximize each day that we have together cause there’s a lot of work to do before we get to China.”
Alapag feels the kind of system Baldwin is running is a perfect fit for Romeo.
“There’s been a lot of teaching these first few days and really just showing him the spots that more than likely he’ll be in. The different guard spots, you know with the offense that coach Tab runs there’s really a lot of flexibility with where he’ll be on the floor. He can attack from different spots,” Alapag, who has been reported to have been traded to the Meralco Bolts.
“It really caters to his strengths getting out on the open floor and really being able to break guys down. It’s gonna be big for him.”
Romeo admits he feels no pressure if ever he cracks the final roster bound for China.
“There’s no pressure on my part. The only thing I’m thinking right now is what my role is, how I’ll be able to do it well to help the team and whatever coach Tab needs me to do,” the flashy Romeo said.
“I just need to play the right kind of basketball and stay focused.” CFC
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