The San Miguel Beermen's title bid inside the PBA Bubble took a major hit as ace guard Terrence Romeo will be out for six to eight weeks after dislocating his right shoulder.
Romeo suffered the injury when he collided with Ryan Reyes in the second quarter of their 107-88 loss to TNT Friday.
"I waited for him to return from the hospital last night because I wanted to talk to him," said coach Leo Austria. "Unfortunately, he'll he out for the rest of the tournament because the diagnosis is that he'll miss six to eight weeks to rehabilitate and strengthen his shoulder."
Romeo started the game against the Tropang Giga and already had 11 points, anchored on three of four shooting from the three-point range when he suffered the injury. He stayed on their bench for a few minutes but he was eventually taken to The Medical City in Clark for tests where he was officially diagnosed with an acromioclavicular joint sprain.
"Right now our focus is to help him get back to we're trying to arrange how he can get home because he needs the support of his family. He's very frustrated right now," added Austria. "Last night, we talked until 2 am. He was asking me 'Coach, why me and why now?' because he really prepared for this conference."
Austria added that Romeo was the Beermen's top-conditioned player before the restart began and that he did not miss any of their practices.
Already without their Most Valuable Player in June Mar Fajardo, who continues to recover from a leg injury, the Beermen will now have to figure out how to move forward without Romeo after losing their first two games inside the Clark bubble.
"We signed Gelo Alolino and Wendel Comboy before the season started and I hope they get to contribute now that Terrence won't be with us here," Austria said. "We know what Alolino can do and Wendel was a good player in college who just needs more experience in the professional level before he can really contribute."
The Beermen will have a two-day break before returning to action on Monday against the still-winless Terrafirma Dyip.
"It's another big challenge for us," admitted Austria. "Our core is not getting any younger and our big man, Mo (Tautuaa), is still trying to get adjusted to his new role as primary big man but we still believe in each other and we'll still do our best to defend the championship."
Romeo officially exited the PBA bubble at around 2 p.m. Saturday, just as his team was leaving for practice at the AUF Arena.
"I just told him to get well and that I'll be praying for him," said Arwind Santos in Filipino. "We'll be playing without him and without June Mar (Fajardo) but I still trust all the members of our team."