THE spotlight is expected to fall on the two Gilas Pilipinas players who made a big difference in the national team’s campaign in the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship as their respective teams cross paths in the coming Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
Alaska’s Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo of Globalport found themselves on the opposite end beginning January 4 when the Aces and Batang Pier begin their best-of-seven series for a seat in the finals of the all-Filipino conference.
Together, the two was referred to by national coach Tab Baldwin as the team’s ‘energizer’ for bringing vigor and intensity in an off-the-bench role with Gilas. The duo was part of the unit that finished a surprising silver medalist in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Changsha, China, which the host country won.
And for someone who has played and bonded together with Abueva for more than two months, Romeo certainly knows what kind of an animal “The Beast’ is.
“Kailangan mag-ready kami kasi sobrang hirap kalaban ang Alaska and si (kuya) Calvin,” said Romeo, appearing in his first ever semifinal appearance in three years as a pro.
But the combo guard from Far Eastern University, a former MVP in the UAAP just like Abueva in the NCAA, said the series is not just about him and Abueva.
“Yung laban team sa team,” he noted. “Hindi naman puwedeng si Calvin lang ang i-stop namin. Kailangan i-stop ‘yung buong Alaska.”
The Aces whipped the Batang Pier in their elimination round encounter, 123-104, in a 19-point rout in which Abueva played for only 15 minutes and finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
Instead, Cyrus Baguio showed the way for the top seeded Aces with 17 points, while Alaska’s bigs of Vic Manuel, Sonny Thoss, and Eric Menk combined for 42 points.
Certainly, that isn’t loss to Romeo, who finished with 33 points in a losing cause against the Aces.
“Yung Alaska hindi lang isang player ‘yung umiiskor sa kanila. Kalat-kalat yung umiiskor sa kanila,” he said.
“Kaya dito kami masusubukan talaga.”