BOCAUE, Bulacan -- International 3x3 star Terrence Romeo visited Philippine Arena on Saturday for the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup. His attendance was assuring as it was heartwarming.
Romeo built his name as a 3x3 maestro and represented the Philippines on the world stage in 2014 and 2015, before joining Gilas Pilipinas. In many ways, the country's hosting of the international event has a lot to do with his eye-catching game and star power.
"For me, this is a huge opportunity for us Filipinos to showcase our talent because it's not easy," Romeo said about the Philippines' hosting of the event. "In 3x3, the competition is tall and they can match our speed. It's good that we're opening our eyes to this level of competition."
In 2014, when the TNT KaTropa guard concluded his PBA rookie season, he competed in the FIBA 3x3 World Tour in Manila which catapulted the Philippines to the World Tour Masters in Tokyo. At just 22 years old, Romeo got the attention of Filipinos, and more importantly the 3x3 world audience.
Romeo had an encore performance in 2015 where he once again displayed his impeccable one-on-one moves and incredible shot-making ability. In just a span of four games, he lit up the scoreboard for a total of 43 points. He was named the tournament MVP and was deemed as the Most Spectacular Player of the 2015 3x3 World Tour season.
"First there's the physicality, then the rules of the game. You have to study them because you can use them to your advantage on defense and offense," dispensed Romeo on the differences in the 3x3 game. "Like when you take a shot, right after that, you can play defense already unlike in the 5-on-5 game where you can milk the clock."
Besides the difference in rules, Romeo also shared that it's an experience to go up against bigger opponents who are just as quick as he is. The level of competition is high with the amount of talent and basketball IQ that all the other countries have.
"We know we're not built like the European guys. Even though we're used to the physicality, if you look at how strong they are, they're just as ready as we are. That's the challenge," Romeo claimed. "Even if we're physical amongst ourselves, we're still all built the same way. They're different, plus the fact they're smart and have high basketball IQs. So the experience we get from here is huge."
Without a doubt, Romeo has a credible voice in 3x3 competition. Though he is not participating in the World Cup, his immense knowledge in the half-court game won't stop him from sharing what he knows with Troy Rosario, Christian Standhardinger, Roger Pogoy, and especially to his former GlobalPort Batang Pier teammate Stanley Pringle.
"I just congratulated him and said that he's been playing really well. I'm really amazed," Romeo said about his old backcourt buddy. "Even before their game, I already knew what Stanley was going to do. It's easy for him."
In the Philippines' first two games of the tournament against Brazil and Mongolia, Pringle scored a total of 10 points. He paraded his array of crossovers, behind-the-back dribbles, and relentless drives to the basket. It was Pringle's first time to don a Philippine jersey but he felt right at home.
Romeo shared that Pringle asked a few pointers on their opponents, including top-seeded Serbia. Romeo saw up-close Serbia's style of play, including their controlled aggression. Serbia may be a physical and talented team, boasting the four best-ranked 3x3 players in the world, but they are also clever and smart.
"I told him you have to adjust and also shoot from the outside because they've seen your ability to explode," Romeo said on his advice to Pringle. "Now, you'll get your opponents thinking. If you get going from the outside, they'll have to think how they can guard you."
Even though Romeo isn't playing in the World Cup, he's more than happy to lend a hand any way he can. He's also thrilled to see his peers in the PBA go at it against the world's best.
"For me, they have a chance because they can all defend, they're all big-bodied," Romeo mentioned about the World Cup aspirations of Pogoy, Rosario, Standhardinger, and Pringle. "They have a big chance. In the next games, they just have to knock down their two-pointers and be smart on defense."
A 3x3 legend in his own right, Romeo said that it would be an amazing sight if the Philippines and Serbia meet in the finals. He says that a dream matchup between Serbia's Dusan Bulut, his idol, and Pringle, someone he looks up to, would be awesome.
"I want to see that. If they matchup, I'll travel anywhere just to watch them play," Romeo beamed.
If Serbia and the Philippines do meet up in the finals, Romeo has one more advice for Pringle.
"I told him, 'Bro, do a crossover on him.'"