by Waylon Galvez
San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria considers having Terrence Romeo on the team a ‘good problem’ for the Beermen.
Austria is fully aware of the questions raised by basketball observers when management accepted the deal from TNT KaTropa for the controversial Romeo. Though known to be one of the best scorers in the league, his character has been questionable- particularly when working with teammates. This will be the second time he has been traded in his six-year career.
“He’s a very talented player, and with him joining our core group, I don’t think that’s a problem… well it’s a good problem,” said Austria. “Because of his talent, he’s a big addition. But he has to work hard and work under our system.”
“We have veterans to guide him, we’re also here. So we’ll see. But we’re definitely welcoming him to the SMB family,” added Austria.
SMB owns one of the best backcourts in the league with Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot forming a dynamic starting duo. Romeo is expected to share minutes coming off the bench with the two veterans.
Aside from Ross and Cabagnot, Romeo can also seek advice from other veterans. That includes reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, former MVP Arwind Santos, ace gunner Marcio Lassiter and SMB returnee Ronald Tubid. The Beermen acquired the 37-year-old guard in a trade with Columbian Dyip in exchange for Keith Agovida.
The five-man trade committee of the PBA Commissioner’s Office led by league chief Willie Marcial approved on Wednesday the trade that sent the controversial 5-foot-11 Romeo to San Miguel from TNT for the rights to David Semerad and Brian Heruela plus SMB’s first-round pick in 2021.
A three-time scoring champion, Romeo started his PBA career with NorthPort (formerly GlobalPort) as the team’s No. 5 overall pick during the 2013 PBA Rookie Draft from Far Eastern University.
Prior to last season, however, the team of Cong. Mikee Romero shipped Romeo to TNT for Moala Tautuaa. His final days with GlobalPort included an alleged clash with coach Pido Jarencio.
Over at TNT, sources said he and veteran guard Jayson Castro have not been talking for months now. Also, Romeo allegedly had a fight with fellow FEU stalwart RR Pogoy during one of their practice sessions.
There were also Romeo’s off-court controversies, including a reported bar brawl in BGC Taguig City.
SMB governor Robert Non said that these are things of the past. Whether it’s true or not, they are willing to give Romeo a second chance – probably his last.
“He met with boss RSA,” said Non, referring to the company’s top boss Ramon S. Ang. “The only thing that he was told is to listen to the coaches, to coach Al (SMC sports head Alfrancis Chua) and me.”
Romeo, who is still recovering from a minor back injury, is expected to attend his first practice session with SMB on Thursday at the Acropolis gym in Quezon City.
Aside from the TNT-SMB deal, the PBA also approved the trade that sent Paul Zamar to the Beermen from the Blackwater Elite in exchange for second-round picks in 2021 and 2022.