VETERAN big man Asi Taulava said he expects Terrence Romeo to become an even better player by the time he returns from the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championships in time for the 41st season of the PBA.
The longtime national team player made the observation as Gilas Pilipinas returned from its campaign in a four-nation pocket tournament in Estonia, after seeing Romeo do well against defenders a full head taller than him.
“When Terrence returns from the Fiba Asia, I'll tell you he'd be a better player. He's making his shots against seven footers, so imagine when he gets back, there's no more seven footers (in the PBA), and everybody's gonna be regular height and Terrence is going to see a whole lot of difference,” Taulava told Spin.ph.
“The basket is going to look like a big hole for his shots,” he added. “It's one of the reasons why we wanted to play for Gilas. It's the whole experience, building ourselves up and preparing to be better for the all-Filipino (Philippine Cup), and Terrence is gonna be great in the all-Filipino.”
But it did not come easy for the streak-shooting Golbalport guard, who had a hard time adjusting playing with the national team for the first time. Taulava bared Romeo’s frustrations adjusting to coach Tab Baldwin’s system especially in the team’s first game against the Netherlands.
“He struggled in some games, so I told him, 'Hey, just keep playing, just figure it out. That's what the national team is all about, figuring it out how to play (through the limitations). All of us went through that stage,” Taulava recalled of his conversation with Romeo in Estonia.
The outspoken NLEX big man, the most senior in the 16-man Gilas pool, recalled how frustrated Romeo was in the corner of his room after a bad debut.
“He missed a lot of shots and struggled in some of his games, and he was so frustrated. He told me: ‘Kuya Asi, I am losing my confidence.' I told him, 'Don't lose your confidence,’” he said.
“That's all part of the national team, some big names, some of us are gonna play a lot of minutes, some of us will play less minutes. Understand, you're playing with a lot of studs (stars),” he told the former Far Eastern University star, while reminding him not to be too hard on himself.
“What he is not used to is not playing all the time, you know how all of us rotates,” added Taulava.
But once Romeo settled down, he began to show his deadly form, according to the 6-foot-9 Fil-Tongan.
“When he got his rhythm going, damn, he was playing around those seven footers. He was using his quickness, he was breaking his defenders’ ankles and everyone were left dazed on defense trying to catch up on Terrence,” he said.
“He's learning to get the tear drop (shot), he's able to create shots for his teammates, then he also developed those quick shots to evade his taller defenders,” added the 43-year-old center.
With more tune-up games for Gilas prior to its campaign in the Fiba-Asia meet set in Changsha, China on September 23 to October 3, Taulava is all the more confident Romeo will further improve his craft.
Asked if the Globalport star has already adjusted from a volume shooter to a pass-first point guard, Taulava nodded with confidence.
“He has adjusted. He's not a crocodile like what some people say. He is just aggressive and Terrence was able to transform himself into a controlled aggressor. He'd be deadly,” said Taulava.