Parting with TNT all sweet, no sorrow, for Romeo
San Miguel Beer was warned about the dangers of adding the volatile Terrence Romeo to its stacked roster. He would wreck the team’s chemistry, critics said. He favors one-on-one action too much and would swallow precious shot clock time per possession, leaving fewer touches for the Beermen’s other stars, they added. He’s been a star all his life and will never submit to a backup role.
The Beermen are sure glad they didn’t listen. Romeo, too. After all he has now won two titles since being traded by TNT to San Miguel.
And in the latest crown conquest, the mercurial guard repaid the team’s faith in him by bedeviling the KaTropa’s second unit in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals series.
His effort didn’t go unnoticed as he was named Finals MVP after San Miguel’s 4-2 conquest of TNT.
Romeo averaged 14.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the six games and put up a 10-point, seven-rebound performance in Game 6. His scoring as part of the second unit was one of the biggest problems of the TNT defense, which could not take a play off even when San Miguel’s key starters hit the bench.
“I think it’s the first time someone off the bench was named Finals MVP,” coach Leo Austria said.
Not quite. Larry Fonacier, who pulled off the feat in 2012, beat Romeo to that piece of history.
But Romeo doesn’t care. He has won two titles since finding relative peace in a career whose highlights are a mix of jaw-dropping scoring displays and brash run-ins with teammates and team officials. And more importantly, he has learned to pursue goals in a team concept.
“For me, I’m just blessed that [being named Finals MVP] happened, because any one of us could’ve won this,” Romeo said in Filipino after the Beermen’s title-clinching 102-90 victory in Game 6 late Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “I’m just lucky to have won this award.”
A former league scoring leader, Romeo’s production off the bench ensured that San Miguel could run a high-octane offense even with its second unit, applying pressure on TNT’s defense for a full 48 minutes. He also hit big shots in that key Game 2 victory, which the Beermen snatched from imminent defeat.
Moreover, his performance allowed San Miguel to survive the injury of top gunner Marcio Lassiter, who sprained his knee in the quarterfinals against NorthPort.
Romeo revealed Lassiter’s constant presence on the bench was a key to his personal growth in the Finals.
“We’re always beside each other on the bench and we’re always talking with each other,” Romeo said. “He’s always telling me to play my own game, I’m asking him what can I do on the defensive end and how to be more effective.”
The second title for Romeo should have been doubly sweeter. After all, it came at the expense of a team that traded him in the offseason, reportedly on the prodding of his teammates.
But Romeo wants to embrace the peace that his career has found.
“I don’t have any hard feelings toward TNT; I have lots of friends there,” Romeo said. “Huge respect for TNT because the guys in that team were exceptional this series.”