TAIPEI - Two of the most divisive and controversial figures in the PBA savored the embrace of their countrymen on Sunday night for a change, thanks to superlative performances while playing for flag and country.
Terrence Romeo, a crafty and shifty scorer to those who love him and a trigger-happy ball hog to those who don't, introduced himself to the rest of Asia with a game-winning 18-point performance in Gilas Pilipinas' 77-69 win over host Chinese Taipei in its Jones Cup debut on Sunday night.
The GlobalPort guard shared the stage with fellow Gilas newcomer Calvin Abueva, a rugged sophomore who constantly comes under criticism from non-fans in the PBA, accused either of deliberately hurting other players or flopping to get favorable calls from referees.
On this night, there was only praise for 'The Beast,' who scored 15 points in less than 14 minutes for Gilas while being the 'ball of energy' as Gilas coach Tab Baldwin later described him
The two were naturally showered with praise after Gilas' sizzling debut, from the time the team huddled to the dugout to the time Romeo appeared in the press room with national coach Tab Baldwin.
Romeo, however, was careful not to get carried away.
"I just wanted to have fun out there," Romeo told Spin.ph. "May kaba rin, pero sumunod lang ako sa game plan."
Turning to Baldwin who was beside him, he excitedly recalled the big three-point shot he made with a second left in the shot clock, setting off Gilas' breakaway from a tight 68-65 contest in the final three minutes.
"I saw the shot clock, coach," he said, "so I just threw it up."
Romeo, however, was quick to shrug off the praise, saying he needs to forget about this game the soonest possible time, so as not to be overconfident going into Gilas' next games.
"Dapat kalimutan ko na game na ito," he said, "para di tayo kumpiyansa sa mga susunod na game."