Terrence Romeo finally made his much-awaited return from a herniated disc in the San Miguel Beermen’s 113-108 win over the Meralco Bolts.
Romeo, whose last appearance was versus Meralco as well, has been sidelined since San Miguel lost to the Bolts in the 2021 PBA Governor’s Cup eight months ago in March. While he missed the entire 2022 PBA Philippine Cup, the Beermen still managed to recapture the All-Filipino championship.
However, the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup has not gone as smoothly for San Miguel and the pressure for him to suit up began to mount during the past month.
The FEU alumnus was reportedly still hesitant to take the court in their previous two outings, but made his much-awaited debut against Meralco in the regular season finale of the Beermen. Romeo was understandably quite rusty and hit only five of the 14 field goal attempts that he took. He wound up finishing with 12 points, an assist, a steal, and a turnover in just 16 minutes of action.
The most encouraging part of his performance though was that he played with his typical confidence and flair that have helped him become one of the most feared scorers in Philippine basketball.
The last time the Commissioner’s Cup was held back in 2019, San Miguel came out on top and it was Romeo who was named the Finals Most Valuable Player despite coming off the bench. In six finals games, he averaged 14.8 points, 4.3 assists, and 2.3 rebounds. His best showing came in Game 2 where he dropped 29 points to help the Beermen tie the series at 1-1.
Three years later, San Miguel will need the 30-year-old Romeo to recapture at least some of his old form if they are to defend their Commissioner’s Cup title in a conference where they have looked uncharacteristically vulnerable.
The Beermen got off on the wrong foot, just a few weeks after capturing the Philippine Cup title, with a surprising 109-106 loss to the perennial cellar dweller Blackwater Bossing in their Commissioner’s Cup season opener. San Miguel wound up losing five of their first eight games and their postseason hopes were on shaky ground until they won their last four games, capped off by this most recent win over Meralco, to secure the fifth seed.
They are now set to face the fourth-place Converge FiberXers in a best-of-three first round series. Converge has lost their last two games after cobbling together a seven-game winning streak, yet they come into this match-up with the confidence of winning their lone elimination round contest with the Beermen, 106-102.
The difference now is that they have Romeo and six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo back onboard. San Miguel may not be the dominant force that they once were prior to the pandemic, but they proved last conference that they are still capable of winning titles and are hoping to add one more in the coming weeks.
They still have the deepest bench in the league and the recent trial run of assistant coach Jorge Gallent as their lead tactician while Leo Austria was out due to health and safety protocols has yielded impressive results. Whatever version of Romeo shows up for the postseason may very well determine the ultimate fortunes of this team and it will be one of the most interesting storylines of the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.