Terrence Romeo feeling his way back as San Miguel faces playoffs minus Fajardo
Terrence Romeo quietly made his return after another injury, something which could serve San Miguel Beer well with June Mar Fajardo out.
And coach Jorge Gallent has broken in the former Philippine Basketball Association scoring champion—all three minutes of it in a 120-106 win over NLEX on Wednesday—as the Beermen gird for the Governors’ Cup playoffs starting next week.
“I’m sure he’s going to play more minutes on Friday,” Gallent said, referring to San Miguel’s final elimination round assignment against Rain or Shine at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
“I’m just happy he’s back. Everybody’s happy that Terrence is back,” he continued. “I just hope he’s fully, fully recovered so that he can get his game back before the playoffs.”
Wednesday’s win was Romeo’s first since Dec. 21 when the Beermen were knocked off by the Bay Area Dragons in the Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
Romeo has dealt with injuries throughout the season. He failed to see action during San Miguel’s run to the Philippine Cup title and the majority of the Commissioner’s Cup eliminations due to a back problem.
He was sidelined for the first nine games of this conference’s eliminations due to a hamstring injury. Romeo also didn’t play for San Miguel in the East Asia Super League (EASL) Champions Week despite joining the team in Japan.
‘Grade 2 strain’
“It’s a bit tricky because it’s a Grade 2 strain,” Romeo said in Filipino when asked of his condition. “There are times that I feel okay, but there are also times that you can feel the pain.
“Even if I want to be explosive with my movements, my mind seems to be preventing me from doing that. So I’m trying to get out of that mindset. It’s been several days since I’ve joined scrimmages, but hopefully I can get my conditioning back in time for the playoffs.”
San Miguel could enter the quarterfinals as the top seed with a win over Rain or Shine in the 3 p.m. match coupled with a Barangay Ginebra win over TNT by three points or less in their 5:45 p.m. meeting.
TNT holds top spot at 9-1, while San Miguel and Ginebra are tied for second with similar 8-2 slates, thus creating the possibility of a three-way tie at the end of Friday’s doubleheader.
The team that ends up as the top seed will face No. 8 Phoenix in the quarters, the second-placer takes on seventh seed Converge while the third-ranked squad meets No. 6 NLEX with the twice-to-beat bonus.
The Beermen are expected to be without Fajardo for the rest of the conference after the 6-foot-10 center injured an MCL during the EASL, leaving import Cam Clark and the team’s big men to pick up the void.
“June Mar is a big part of the team, we know that. It starts with June Mar,” said Clark. “We just got to step up as a collective group. I feel like our bigs like [Mo Tautuaa and Rodney Brondial] and a lot of guys stepped up [against NLEX]. We’re going to need that going forward.”