BATANGAS City - Terrence Romeo turned out to be the biggest star at the Batangas City Sports Center after leading the eight-man Gilas Pilipinas to a 152-149 over the Luzon All-Stars on Friday night.
Romeo scored an All-Star-record 48 points and dished out 11 assists in a performance that made the TNT KaTropa star guard the hands-down choice for the MVP award.
The peppery guard fired 26 of that in the first half when the Smart-backed national squad zoomed to an 86-70 lead after the first 20 minutes.
He danced around the Luzon defenders and wowed the crowd with his amazing offensive repertoire highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers as Gilas retook control, 140-125, with 5:55 to go.
The Luzon All-Stars came charging back behind Arwind Santos and Calvin Abueva, eventually trimming the lead to three points with seven seconds left following a Santos three-pointer.
The Luzon All-Stars even had a chance to tie the game after Romeo turned the ball over, but hometown boy LA Tenorio missed what could have been a game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds.
"Nagtrabaho naman ang mga bata kahit na pagod na pagod sila, hindi nawala ang aggressiveness nila and gusto rin nilang mapasaya ang mga tao," said Yeng Guiao, who coached the undermanned Gilas side.
"Medyo nakakapanibago talaga pero in a way mas madali kasi wala ka masyadong iniisip, maikli rotation mo. But of course that’s very difficult for players lalo’t sunud-sunod ang mga laro, na-burn out sila."
The game was certainly filled with drama and it was highlighted by an altercation between Romeo and Santos that led to technical fouls - rarities in an All-Star game.
While the night belonged to Romeo, his teammate in Jio Jalalon also had a huge night of his own as he finished with a triple-double of 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists despite going down with a sprain in the third period.
It was the first triple-double in an All-Star game since Willie Miller did it in 2007.
June Mar Fajardo added 30 points and 14 boards as Troy Rosario added 20 for the shorthanded Gilas side, which even lost Allein Maliksi early on.
Japeth Aguilar also had an MVP worthy performance as he finished with 43 points and 13 rebounds for the Luzon All-Stars. Abueva and Santos added 23 points apiece.
Smart All-Stars 152 — Romeo 48, Fajardo 30, Rosario 20, Pogoy 17, Norwood 13, Jalalon 12, Belo 10, Maliksi 2.
Luzon All-Stars 149 — Aguilar 43, Abueva 23, Santos 23, Cabagnot 13, Tenorio 12, Castro 7, Lassiter 5, Wright 3, Almazan 2, Pringle 0.
Quarters: 47-38, 86-70, 121-106, 152-149.