Across Terrence Romeo’s name in the stat sheet was his total assists for the night: Three. That hardly reflected the way the flashy guard handled San Miguel Beer’s playmaking chores Sunday night.
The Beermen jumped off to a strong start and weathered a late run by Terrafirma to hammer out a 100-88 victory in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum, putting themselves in a better position for the new year than they were at the start of the tournament.
“We’re looking up. The task for us now is how to sustain this,” Beermen coach Leo Austria told the Inquirer after the game.
They have Romeo to thank.
The shifty guard finished with 23 points, four rebounds and two steals, his assists total not telling the entire story of how he ran the Beermen’s offense in the continued absence of Chris Ross, who is in the United States mourning his father’s passing.
“My teammates needed someone to set them up,” Romeo said.
“Whenever that happens we’re an even tougher lot,” he added. “That has been the key for San Miguel in all of their championship runs. Whenever I watch [old tapes], that is what makes them truly successful.”
It was the third straight victory for San Miguel Beer, who started the tournament on back-to-back losses.
“We have made a lot of sacrifices in the last few weeks because we went down 0-2 and I know it’s hard to climb back from that because most of the teams are focused,” said Austria. “I have to commend the players because despite the holidays they are always present in practice.”
23 points down
Terrafirma threatened to rob San Miguel of the momentum it was building heading into the break.
With Juami Tiongson leading the fight-back, the Dyip fought from 23 points down in the fourth period to move to within six, 94-88, just under two minutes remaining in the match.
But with Romeo making sure the San Miguel engine was humming smoothly, the Beermen hosed down the rally to hand the Dyip their third straight loss in a 1-4 card.
Brandon Brown finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals for San Miguel Beer. CJ Perez also finished in double digits for San Miguel with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists while Vic Manuel added 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Tiongson, whose three-pointer trimmed the lead to six in the fourth, finished with 21 points, five rebounds and three assists. He also had five triples in the game.
Romeo has absorbed a lot of the playmaking duties normally shouldered by Ross. Making his task even more important is the fact that San Miguel traded away veteran guard Alex Cabagnot to the Dyip during the season break and his replacement in that swap, Simon Enciso, is still feeling his way through the Beermen’s system.
The 39-year-old Cabagnot, who won nine titles with the Beermen, suffered a torn Achilles tendon on Dec. 18 against NLEX and was unavailable Sunday night.
Cabagnot, according to Terrafirma coach Johnedel Cardel, is officially out for the season as Achilles tendon tear would require him at least eight months of recovery.
Import Antonio Hester finished with 19 points and seven boards for the Dyip.
Cardel isn’t pushing the panic button yet despite the current skid.
“We still have plenty games left to play. We’ve won one. We can still win some more, I think,” he said. “It has happened before.”
The game was part of a four-game, two-day holiday special dubbed “Season of Joy” by the league. That special included a Christmas Day doubleheader on Saturday, which Magnolia capped by bamboozling Barangay Ginebra, 117-94.
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Source by sports.inquirer.net