IT is ironic that the young man wearing the No. 7 jersey for GlobalPort almost single-handedly brought down Barangay Ginebra on Thursday night.
Terrence Romeo, it turned out, grew up hearing tales about the legendary player who started the Ginebra phenomenon from his dad, a dyed-in-the-wool Robert Jaworski fan.
“Nung bata ako, yung daddy ko lagi niyang kinukuwento sa akin si Jaworski. Sobrang idol daw niya 'yun. Yun daw ang favorite niya,” said Romeo, whose dad William is a frustrated basketball player.
That's the reason he ended up wearing Jaworski's iconic No. 7 jersey, Romeo said.
“Gusto ng daddy ko na maglaro sa PBA, pero hindi siya pinalad. Kaya nung nagsimula ako mag-basketball, sa akin niya ipinilit yung pagiging fan siya ni Jaworski … kaya nga po No. 7 ang number ko eh,” he explained.
The 21-year-old former Far Eastern University star impressed in his first showdown against Ginebra, scoring 27 points and leading a brave second-half fightback that almost denied the Kings a 109-104 victory.
Although influenced by his dad's admiration of Jaworski, Romeo told Spin.ph that it was another Ginebra superstar, Mark Caguioa, who he ended up idolizing and mimicking.
“Hindi ko na po kasi inabot si Jaworski. Tapos nagkataon yung Mark Caguioa po at Jayjay Helterbrand … sila naman ang nagustuhan ko,” said the reigning UAAP MVP.
So much so that while learning the game in the street basketball courts of Imus, Cavite, Romeo said he honed his skills mostly trying to copy the moves of the ‘Fast and the Furious’ Ginebra tandem.
“Opo, dun po ako kumokopya ng style eh. Lalo na yung pull-up jumper ni Kuya Mark,” he said. “Pati po yung crossover, sa kanya ko rin nakita na una!”
Asked if he sees himself having the same popularity and success as Caguioa and Jaworski, Romeo said he can only hope so.
“Sana nga po. Pero aminado naman ako na sobrang layo ko pa sa kanila. Madami pa akong kakaining kanin. Pero 'yun po ang pinagdarasal ko sa Diyos na maabot ko bilang player. Sobrang ganda po kasi ng career nila,” he said.
Romeo said he was so fond of Caguioa that he had to fight the urge to bring a mobile phone to the court and have a photo taken with Caguioa before their game at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday.
“Gusto ko nga po sanang magdala ng cellphone sa court bago ang game para makapagpa-picture kay Kuya Mark … kaso nahiya lang po ako,” he said with unbridled laughter.
“Wala naman po hindi na-i-starstruck kay Kuya Mark eh. Lalo na po sa kagaya ko na rookie… talagang hindi maalis yun,” he added.
Seeing Caguioa respond to the challenge on Thursday night and the professional manner in which he approached his shooutout with him only made Romeo respect the former league MVP all the more.
“Mas lalo pong tumaas ang respeto ko kay Kuya Mark. Kasi po kahit na beterano siya, hindi niya po ako pinisikal o sinaktan at dinaan sa trash talk … talagang basketball lang po niya akong hinarap,” Romeo said.
“Alam po ng Diyos, mas lalong tumaas ang respeto ko sa kanya kasi napaka sobrang professional niya. Laro lang siya at talagang galing niya ang ipinakita niya,” he said.
“Kung ano yung galing niya, 'yun ang ipinakita niya. May ibang namemersonal na eh. Si Kuya Mark, dinaan talaga sa laro niya ang laban!