June 13, 2024

GUTS AND GLORY | Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo ready to provide a spark to Gilas Pilipinas once again

GUTS AND GLORY | Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo ready to provide a spark to Gilas Pilipinas once again
Art by Royce Nicdao

After Scottie Thompson fractured his hand during the Gilas Pilipinas training camp in Kaunas, Lithuania, there was an informal discussion between some of the players on which point guard could still be added to the pool.

Jayson Castro was mentioned but he was then on a European tour with his wife. Robert Bolick and RJ Abarrientos were also noted with the two then transitioning to a new phase in their careers in the B.League.

“You know who the Japanese players are looking for?” said one guard. “Terrence Romeo.”

Even though it has been a while since he last donned a Gilas jersey, it’s difficult to forget what Romeo did in the past. He broke out in 2015, catching fire in the Jones Cup and being a spark off the bench for the FIBA Asia Championship.

After losing the gold medal match against China in less than favorable conditions, Romeo vowed he would get them next time when the playing field is level and he delivered on this promise by helping Gilas win in a tune-up game in Italy and in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon.

Romeo lit China up pretty badly in his last meeting against them with 26 points and 4 assists.

A player who did not get a lot of opportunities in that game was Calvin Abueva. The Beast had two points in only 91 seconds of action but he celebrated with the team like he made the game-winner because that’s just the kind of guy he is.

Now, both players might get the chance to fly back to China, where they first launched their international basketball careers to represent the Philippines anew in the Asian Games.

While there are other players who also got call-ups to the Gilas team for the Asiad, none generated more attention.

One of the reasons might be because these two are relatable. One is a talented guard who would sometimes try to do things on his own. The other is an undersized big who wears his heart on his sleeve. Their stories are similar to the stories of many basketball players out there.

The second is because we Filipinos love a good comeback story.

For Romeo, it’s battling through adversity, some off-court issues but mostly injuries, that have prevented him from being one of the top stars in the league.

For Abueva, it’s another chance to prove that he may still be rough around the edges but sometimes it’s exactly what a team needs. Getting cut from the 2016 Olympic Qualifying Tournament was tough and getting involved in the brawl against Australia was regrettable but he got a fresh chance at 35 years of age and he’s coming in hot, no matter how many fingers he breaks in practice.

The road will be tougher for Abueva who was not part of the initial list. A request to line him up, along with Jason Perkins, has been submitted but the hosts have already declined a similar request from the Philippines in gymnastics.

However, whatever happens, their return to the fold for the Asian Games, even if they don’t play there is still a good sign.

The FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers will be coming up this November and players, such as Abueva and Romeo, expressing their willingness to still play for the national team only bodes well for the program moving forward.

With Romeo’s recent bout with back injuries and Abueva getting up there in age, they could have easily declined to participate. But they didn’t. They dropped everything to join the team in practice and maybe that is the biggest reason why their return to the fold has garnered a ton of positive reactions. The Beast and The Bro are back in the fold. Fasten your seatbelts because it’s going to be a fun ride.