ANTIPOLO CITY – Romeo Travis just won’t let his ‘special day’ get spoiled.
The Magnolia import willed his team back from a five-point deficit inside the final two minutes as the Hotshots dethroned Barangay Ginebra as PBA Governors Cup champion, 112-108, Friday night at the Ynares Center.
Hobbled by a grade 2 hamstring injury, Travis scored 21 points in the final quarter, including five points in a closing 11-2 run by the Hotshots to win the highly-emotional Game Four and win the best-of-five series, 3-1, for a berth in the finals.
Travis, a close friend and high school classmate of NBA superstar LeBron James, exploded for a career-high 50 points on 20-of-26 shooting and had 13 rebounds just two days after hitting rock bottom with a career-low of 12 points in a losing cause in Game Three.
Understandably, the native of Akron, Ohio was emotional following the dramatic win and couldn’t contain shedding tears inside the Magnolia dugout shortly after the game.
“It’s definitely a special day for me. I’ve never had scored points like this before in my life,” he said. “When I get home I’ll kiss my wife and hug my kids. It’s a very special day for me. And I will never forget it.”
Travis was a game-day decision as he was hampered by a hurting hamstring that inhibit him from practicing with the Hotshots on the eve of the game.
It was on the morning of Friday that the import decided he’s going to play.
“When you have a lot of pain, it’s worth it. I went through a lot of pain to play today and it’s worth it. And so for me that’s emotional just to make it through,” he said. “Just to get through the pain and make it worth it, it meant a lot to me.”
Besides, he doesn’t want to use the injury as an excuse.
“I don’t’ want to talk about that. It is what it is. I didn’t make excuses after we lost, I won’t make excuses now after we won,” said the 33-year-old Travis.
The Hotshots were down 106-101 with 1:44 left after coach Chito Victolero was whistled for a technical foul following a non-call on a supposed goal-tending violation by Ginebra import Justine Brownlee on a Paul Lee basket.
Then Travis took charge.
He scored five of Magnolia’s next seven games, including a completed three-point play off a Joe Devance foul to push the Hotshots in front for good, 108-106, with 44 seconds to go.
“Just stay the course,” said Travis of the Hotshots’ mindset after finding themselves down by five late in the game. “Throughout the game, there will be good times and bad times. As long as you stay the same, and you stay to your principles, everything will stay out fine.”
Besides, the Magnolia import no longer wants to play a deciding Game Five, which had been scheduled for Sunday at the Alonte Sports Center in Binan, Laguna.
“I just wanted to win. I don’t want to travel for road game, my wife will be leaving on Sunday,” he said. “I just didn’t want to play again, honestly. I don’t know if I physically could play again. So I just gave it all I have. I just put it all out there.”
After that defining career-moment, Travis certainly need this well-deserved rest.