Terrence Romeo leads Manila West to FIBA 3×3 World Tour Manila Masters title

The 5’11” Terrence Romeo held the ball at the right elbow, behind the three-point arc. He had the 6’9″ Qatar National Team Member, Yaseen Musa, defending him.

Romeo used an in-and-out with his left hand then dribbled between his legs. Musa bit a little. Terrence pulled back.

He repeated the entire maneuver; only this time, it ended with a step-back jumper. Swoosh.

The Filipino guard made the jay and left the Musa, also known as ‘Captain Qatar,’ dazed. He was beyond confused.

The crowd watching from all five floors of the Megamall Fashion Hall all cheered in unison. That wasn’t the only time Terrence made them scream oohs and ahhs.

If there’s one morale lesson from the FIBA 3×3 weekend, it’s that Terrence Romeo is a halfcourt basketball machine. Well, actually, we’ve known this since his high school days. But this weekend re-established it in my mind. He practically ripped every defender any team put on him.

Playing for Manila West, he was teamed up with KG Canaleta, Rey Guevarra and Aldrech Ramos, three pros with so much more experience than Romeo. Each of those three have suited up for the national team before. They’ve encountered foreign competition before. They’ve gone through facing giants of other countries in the past. But in the end, the apparent ‘star’ of the team was 22-year-old Romeo, who had just completed his first year in the PBA.

You see, it was as if this competition was built for Romeo. The street inspiration, the youthful vibe, the physicality and trash-talking. Those all speak to Terrence’s game. This is how he learned the game and this is how he continues to play it today.

A few kilometers away from my house, there’s a basketball court. It’s covered, but it’s made of concrete. It’s far from spectacular. Yet, every so often, Terrence goes there to hoop. Despite having played in the biggest basketball stages in the country, Romeo still continues to embrace the streets.

This past weekend, his two worlds – the air-conditioned arenas and the street courts – collided.

It was the perfect setting for the perfect player. And the result? The perfect ending.

Romeo led the Manila West to be hailed champions of the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Manila Masters. They won 10,000 USD. More importantly, they qualify for the World Tour Masters in Tokyo on October 11-12. There, they will face the top two teams of the next five stops of the tour.

THE OTHER MANILA TEAMS

Unfortunately, the three other Manila teams failed to qualify for the Tokyo Masters. Team Manila South, made up of the Naga City Titans, made it to the quarterfinals, only to lose to Surabaya. I was actually pretty impressed with the performance of this squad. Honestly, I thought they would get run over by every other team in the tournament. But the boys stood their ground against bigger, older, and much tougher opponents. A quarterfinal finish isn’t so bad for this team.

The Manila East team was represented by student-athletes from the Ateneo de Manila University. They also got knocked out in the quarterfinals Ty team Jakarta. Pound-for-pound, I felt that they were a better team than Jakarta. But there was too much 1-on-1 from the Ateneans. That, for me, was the cause of their downfall. In the few times that they went to KC Cargala, he rewarded them. Perhaps, they should have gone to him more.

And finally, there was Manila North. Initially, this was the Philippine team that had the best chance to win it all. They had an all-around guy in Abueva, a reliable big in Sangalang, and bangers in Pascual and Manuel. Not to make excuses, but the Sangalang injury really hurt this team – especially against the towers of Doha. Thus, their campaign had to end in the quarters. Imagine if the Sangalang trip didn’t happen. We could’ve had an all-Filipino final. Sad.


THE BEAST TAKES OVER

We talked about Romeo going HAM last weekend. But let’s not forget what Calvin Abueva did.

Last Saturday, Manila North took on Xinzhuang.

For some reason, Abueva wasn’t with his team. It was only Sangalang, Pascual and Manuel taking on the full force of the Taiwanese.

Unfortunately, about halfway through the game, Ian twisted his ankle. There was really nobody near him. It was a bad step. Left with no choice, Manila North had to play with only two players. Even more unfortunate, a couple of plays later, Manuel got hit in the eye.

Paano na ‘to? Mag-isa na lang si Jake.

Remember that scene from Space Jam where Bill Murray arrives right in the nick of time to be the 5th man of the Tunesquad? That’s exactly how Abueva arrived. Out of nowhere, biglang nandoon na siya.

The only difference was that Murray was already in playing gear when he arrived. Abueva had to change clothes in the middle of Megamall. It was seen live all around the world through livestreaming. Well, that’s Calvin Abueva for you, world. True bad boy fashion.

Xinzhuang had no idea what was coming. Abueva and Pascual, former NCAA rivals, teamed up to finish the game. Calvin turned on that switch on his back labeled ‘beast mode.’

By my unofficial count, he scored the next eight points of Manila North via two-pointers and and-ones.

The Pinoy duo eventually toppled the Taiwanese, 21-11, and moved on to the knockout stages.

Photo from the FIBA Facebook page