TERRENCE Romeo walked forlornly with his head bowed as he entered the San Miguel locker room ahead of everybody.
The three-time PBA scoring champion's body language spoke volumes about the gloom inside the San Miguel dugout after the highly-favored Beermen saw a season of great expectations come to an abrupt end on Friday.
What was supposed to be a run to another championship ended in a loud thud for the proud franchise, which failed to advance deep into the playoffs of the PBA Governors Cup following its 100-85 loss to Meralco.
The quarterfinal exit was the first for San Miguel since it was ousted by Meralco in the same stage of the 2020 Philippine Cup at the Clark bubble.
For all the firepower and the collection of talent SMB stacked up before and during the season-ending tournament, it still lost to a Meralco team its champion coach described as not exactly a powerhouse team.
There was an eerie silence when the door of the dugout was shut closed once everybody was all accounted for.
The scenario was in stark contrast to the shouts for joy and exchanges of high fives one can hear from the opposite end of the hall where Meralco celebrated its march to the semifinal stage for the fourth straight conference.
“I’m really frustrated because everybody was expecting us to do well,” admitted coach Leo Austria later. “We’re short of one game to get into the semifinals and we really want to make it to the semifinals.”
“Quotient didn’t get our way,” veteran guard Chris Ross pointed out, referring to the standings at the end of the eliminations where the Beermen and Bolts ended up tied at 7-4, only for Meralco to end up as the no. 4 seeded team.
“I feel like if we would have the twice-to-beat, it would have been a little better.”
Romeo led all San Miguel locals with 17 points, while six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez finished with 12 each.
Fajardo added 12 rebounds for a double-double, while Perez had nine of his output scored in the fourth.
Highly-touted import Shabazz Muhammad was held to just 24 points after exploding for 57 big points in San Miguel's first meeting with Meralco which it won, 115-110, after coming back from 26 points down.
"That's always tough when your back is against the wall. There's a lot of pressure on us," Muhammad, a first round pick in the 2014 NBA draft by Minnessota, said, referring to San Miguel's task of having to beat Meralco twice in a row to advance.
"It really hurts me we lost the game. It's definitely something that I will look forward in the future of coming back here and try to win a championship. That's something that's going to be on my mind now."
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