Romeo uses jitters to fuel career game in PBA semis debut
MANILA, Philippines – Terrence Romeo knew the night before he’d have to fight off nerves in his first PBA semifinals game. But he didn’t think he’d end up resetting his career-high points in the process.
The 23-year-old former UAAP MVP erupted for 41 points, a new personal record, to spark the Globalport Batang Pier to a 107-93 victory over the Alaska Aces in game 1 of the best-of-7 semifinals series in the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup.
But before the highlight reel-worthy performance, Romeo lost sleep Sunday night wondering what lay ahead 24 hours later. (WATCH: Terrence Romeo scores career-high 41 points in semis debut)
“Hindi ako gaano nakatulog kasi naiisip ko first time ko mag-semis sa PBA,” shared Romeo, who also went 6-of-11 from 3-point range and had two rebounds, 4 assists and two steals. “Ano kayang pakiramdam, kako?”
(I couldn’t sleep much because I was thinking it’s my first time to play in the semis in the PBA. I thought about what it would feel like.)
Romeo, who is already broken in when it comes to pressure-packed games with his recent stint for Philippine national team Gilas Pilipinas, wound up using his early pre-game shootaround to turn his worries into the very fuel that set his hands on fire and left Alaska in the dust.
“I can’t get rid of the jitters but what I did to replace it was to shoot around early. I put it in my head that I worked hard and I can’t let my nerves get the best of me,” he said in Filipino, noting that finding his stroke hours before the game is his common routine.
“The jitters will always be there but you have to handle it well. Don’t play according to how you feel. Go with the flow. It’s not just me anyway, I have my teammates and that boosts my confidence.”
Last season’s Most Improved Player was all over the floor for coach Pido Jarencio and Globalport from the very start, firing from long range and slashing through to the basket to tally 22 points by halftime.
His early explosion allowed the Batang Pier to race to a 24-6 lead. He later on hit the dagger triple, 103-91, with 43.6 seconds left in the game and wrapped up his epic semis debut with a pair of free throws to improve his statistical points and move up from 7th to 5th place in the Best Player of the Conference race.
Critical to Romeo’s offense Monday night, January 4 was the strategy Jarencio set with 3 consecutive ball screeners to free him up amid the daunting Alaska defense eager to shackle the league’s leading scorer.
“Coach Pido thought of immediately setting screens for me once I got the ball,” said Romeo, who also emphasized the Aces’ strength in pressuring the ball handler.
“And once there’s a ball screen I need to just find a way. It’s up to my reads of the big man and where he’s going. Coach Pido’s strategy was very effective.”
“I just look for my shots that I know I can take without forcing it or I know those are my kinds of shots,” added Romeo, who also had a productive 33-point night against the Aces in the elimination round last November.
Romeo, who blitzed past every defender Alaska put on him, expects a point in the series where he will be forced to relinquish the ball completely. He will then look to his teammates to provide more offensive firepower, including backcourt partner Stanley Pringle.
“Definitely. I’m always gonna let the game come to me. If I’m in there and it comes to me and they need me to step up, then that’s what I’m going to do,” Pringle gave his assurance after he finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and a block.
Game 2 of the series is on Wednesday, January 6 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (SCHEDULE: 2016 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals)
#PBA: Terrence Romeo talks about his career game vs AlaskaPosted by Jane Yvette Bracher on Monday, 4 January 2016