Terrence Romeo was on a different plane of existence in Gilas’ win over China. He took over in the fourth quarter and delivered arguably the Philippine’s biggest international win in the past two years.
Naturally, the highlight that everyone will look back at and celebrate repeatedly was the 30-foot bomb from straight away that gave Gilas a five-point lead. But for me, the shot that stands out is the one that he hit a few possessions before.
With less than four minutes left in the game, China was leading by three-points, 87-84. Romeo got the ball near the top of the key, a few steps away from the three-point line. He used a Christian Standhardinger pick to get free of his primary defender. Unfortunately, his path to the basket was closed off as another Chinese defender showed on the screen.
Romeo continued his dribble all the way to the left wing. He hesitated, feigning a pass to Standhardinger who rolled into the paint. The big man who showed ran back to cover the paint, leaving a Chinese guard to chase after Romeo. At that point, Romeo stepped back slightly behind the three point line and launched a shot over the recovering defender.
A few seconds later, Magoo Marjon’s iconic “BAAAAAAAAAAAAAANG!” could be heard from TV sets around the country.
The shot hit nothing but twine. 87-all.
I jumped out of my seat and gave a passionate fist pump. I was all alone at home but I’m sure I wasn’t alone in celebrating the shot.
That shot was the turning point of the game for me.
Before Romeo hit the game-tying trey, momentum was fully regained by China. They whittled down the once formidable Gilas lead and regained control of the game. China found their outside touch, hitting seven three-pointers in the third quarter to get back in the game. It really seemed like they were saving their energy for a fourth quarter push. They were executing their offense better, complaining to the referees less and winning the 50-50 balls that Gilas was owning in the first half.
When they led by three, it felt like Gilas was being set up for a painful loss. It wasn’t that I was giving up on Gilas at that time. It was that I was so used to the Chinese dominance by that point. I thought they just flipped the switch and took over the game.
But Romeo’s three-pointer gave me hope. More importantly, it gave him and the rest of the team a renewed energy to finish the game strong.
That shot gave Gilas momentum back. They weren’t down heading into the final minutes of the game. They were dead even with China. Despite a terrible showing in the second half, they were at pace with one of the best teams in Asia. In the next defensive possession, Japeth Aguilar got a big block to stop the Chinese from retaking the lead. The stopped China once more and Romeo went on to deliver more big shots for the win.
That shot was Terrence Romeo in a nutshell.
If you go back to that play, you could see, nothing was happening with Gilas in that play. The rest of the team was waiting for something to happen. Romeo’s creativity conjured up an opportunity out of nowhere. It was an opportunity that a few players in the country are bold enough to take.
Romeo could have copped out of the situation in so many ways. He could have reset the offense or called Jayson Castro to run the show instead. He could have attacked the basket and tried a shot closer to the hoop. But that isn’t him. Romeo was fearless enough to go for the home run. He went for it all in that shot.
Had he missed, the narrative would have been totally different. Romeo would have been blamed for the loss. Instead of celebratory tweets, it would have been messages lambasting him for being buwakaw. He would have been the goat, instead of the GOAT.
But years of hero ball has hardened Romeo. He’s developed a fearlessness to not only take the biggest shots of the game but also to take the consequences, win or lose.
Gilas needs that kind of fearlessness, that kind of audacity, that kind of yabang if they want to succeed against the best in the world. They need someone to play bigger than their opponent when the stakes are at their highest.
That shot showed everyone on the team that they deserve to be one of the best in Asia. It showed players like Raymond Almazan and Gabe Norwood and RR Pogoy that if they play as a team at the highest level, their efforts won’t be wasted. They can take down giants.
A few days ago, winning the FIBA Asia Cup wasn’t even a reality for a lot of fans. Now, because of that shot, winning the tournament is within reach.
Photos from FIBA.com