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MANILA, Philippines – Puerto Rican center Ismael Romero always had one weakness in his game – the free throw.
All his career, he has tried to improve his stroke from the charity stripe.
However, there was nothing charitable about the results as he never shot better than 55% from the line in any of his stints with multiple teams, including the NBA G League.
With a chance to win the game and break an 81-all deadlock in the free throw line with 0.3 seconds left, he bricked his first and badly missed his second, which led to overtime.
“It was tough for me because all my career, I tried to be better at the free throw line and I’ve been working so hard at that moment, today I couldn’t make it,” lamented Romero.
“I know, tomorrow’s another day. I have another chance for sure,” he added.
Despite the blunder – Romero’s misses were not detrimental to the result of the game – the 6-foot-8 big powered his way to 16 points and 10 rebounds in the 101-96 overtime victory against World Cup debutant South Sudan in Group B action.
He was also the catalyst in sparking a 9-2 run with 4:44 left in the fourth quarter that turned a 65-72 disadvantage to a 74-all tie with 2:27 to go.
Romero scored or assisted on 7 of the 9 points, and even gave his team the lead twice in the final 30 seconds of regulation.
His hustle led to the free throw opportunity, but was not able to make the most out of it.
“We know it was going to be a crazy game, we only had one chance, we stayed in the first half and we’ve gone everything different because they scored too easy,” said Romero.
“In the second half, we switched everything and played differently, and we have the result,” he continued.
An integral part of the Puerto Rico campaign to the World Cup as a starter, Romero vowed he will remain locked in for the team.
“I try to do my best for my team and rebound, screen, go to the floor. Whatever it takes,” he assured.
“There’s only one opportunity that I have, so I give my everything.” – Rappler.com