FOR those who’ve played with and against prolific guard Terrence Romeo, his impressive debut game for Gilas Pilipinas in the 37th Jones Cup Sunday night is just the tip of the iceberg.
Former teammate RR Garcia, Globalport backcourt partner Stanley Pringle, and Star Hotshot rival Mark Barroca were not surprised with the way Romeo dazzled in the national team’s 77-69 dismantling of host Chinese-Taipei to open its campaign on a winning note in the annual cage tournament.
The 6-foot guard from Imus, Cavite displayed an array of dribbling wizardry, ankle breakers, and three-point shooting to wow the partisan crowd at the Xinchuang Gymnasium in the Chinese Taipei capital.
Garcia, who has been Romeo’s backcourt partner at FEU and for a while, with the Batang Pier, believes the confidence he earned in his breakout game with the national team will only make him play better in Gilas’ next games.
“Kumpiyansang-kumpiyansa siya ngayon. Tingin ko mas lalo pang gaganahan yan sa mga susunod na laro. Kilala ko si Terrence, lalo pa fit siya sa system ni coach Tab (Baldwin),” said Garcia.
“ Nagulat ako, nilulusutan nya yung mga bantay nya, binaboy pa nya yung import ng kalaban si Quincy Davis (Taipei’s naturalized player),” he added laughing, obviously referring to Romeo’s highlight-reel play when he did a crossover against a Chinese-Taipei defender before driving and scoring off Davis’ outstretched arms .
Garcia doesn’t believe either that scouting Romeo would slow him down in the team’s succeeding matches.
“Malabo, unless mabilis na defender ang ilalagay nila. Kasi madaming galaw si Terrence eh. Sa one-on-one, ang hirap habulin niyan. Magaling pa mag dribble, mababalian ka ng ankle dyan. Mahihirapan ang mga kalaban (defenders) dyan. Very shifty si Terrence eh,” said the Barako Bull guard.
“Kung malaki naman ang ilalagay mo sa kanya, iiwanan lang niya. Hindi rin pwedeng pisikalin si Terrence, kasi mabigat (rin ang katawan niyan) lalo ngayon, nagpapayat siya, mas kundisyon.”
Pringle, who along with Romeo make up Globaport’s current 1-2 punch, admitted not being surprised at his teammate perform at a very high level in his international game debut.
Himself a known international campaigner having played in the US, Poland, Ukraine, and Indonesia, Pringle sees Romeo as a very special player.
“I see Terrence in practice, I've been guarding him. I know he can do it. I've guarded him in practice so many times, I've played against a lot of great players and Terrence has a lot of different moves, it's really hard to stop him,” said Pringle, who is very eager to watch the replay of the Gilas-Chinese-Taipei game.
“I wasn't surprised he played like that, I know he is going to do well. I know he can do that at a high level. It's good that he is gaining experience too playing for the national team, that will be very good for him,” he added.
Another FEE alumnus in Barroca attested to the claim of Garcia that Romeo is one of the most difficult PBA players to guard today.
Barroca disclosed that he would try to trim down days before his match-up agains Romeo just to keep up with the pace of the young dribbler.
“Malimit talaga nagbabawas ako ng kain pag kakalabanin namin ang Globalport at si Terrence, kasi kaunting bigat mo, malaking bagay sa paghabol sa kanya,” said the Star Hotshot guard.
“Hindi lang kasi siya mabilis, madami siyang galaw. Kaunting pagkakamali mo ng hakbang, pwede ka na nyang ikutan,” added the Zamboangueno pride.
Garcia also noted the big improvement in the ball handling skills of Romeo, who has slowly evolved from a volume shooter to a pass first type of guard who now carefully selects his shots.
“Yun ang maganda kay Terrence, ang bilis niyang nakapag-adjust. Ganun talaga si Terrence, pag ginusto niya aralin ang isang bagong bagay, talagang pagtutuunan niya ng pansin,” he said.