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PBA: Caguioa, Romeo dazzle crowd

CAGUIOA and Romeo

by Waylon Galvez

Manila, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra ace guard Mark Caguioa had his memorable battles in the past against some of the best one-on-one players in the PBA.

The list includes James Yap of San Mig Coffee, Willie Miller of Barako Bull, Gary David of Meralco, Dondon Hontiveros of Alaska, Alex Cabagnot of Petron Blaze, Larry Fonacier of Talk ’N Text, Paul Lee of Rain or Shine and Mark Cardona of Air21.

Add to that list Globalport rookie Terrence Romeo.

Caguioa and Romeo engaged in an unforgettable fourth quarter showdown as the Kings won for the third time to stay unbeaten with a 109-104 victory against the Batang Pier in the 2014 PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup last Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

It’s no secret that Romeo, the No. 5 overall pick in the last PBA Rookie Draft, idolizes the 12-year veteran. The former Far Eastern University stalwart admits that he actually patterns some of his moves to the “Spark”, the moniker of Caguioa in the pro league.

Caguioa, 34, sees the similarities.

“The way he is, yeah (I see myself),” said Caguioa of Romeo after the game.

“From the way it looms, Terrence is a great scorer. He’s got a bright future ahead of him. Even with an off night, he will find ways to score as long as he keeps shooting. Once a player is very aggressive, he’ll shoot the ball anytime,” added Caguioa.

Coming into the game, Romeo averages 23.5 points punctuated by a 34-point explosion in a 114-110 triumph against Air21 last week, while Caguioa averages 12 points per game and is fresh from a 22-point production in a 97-84 win versus Rain or Shine last Sunday.

Through three quarters of the Ginebra-Globalport game, Caguiao already had 15 points as the Kings established another 18-point advantage, 80-62, with a minute to play before the end of the period. They led at halftime, 56-38.

Romeo, the 21-year-old with an ‘anime’ like hairstyle, started slow with just five points in opening period and was scoreless in the second quarter, but started to pick up the tempo by scoring eight in the third quarter as Globalport cut the deficit to 83-66 entering the final canto.

That set the stage for their showdown as Caguioa, the PBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2012, and Romeo, the UAAP MVP the previous season, went toe-to-toe against each other as they delivered big shots after big shots.

Romeo starred in a blistering 27-8 blast as he scored 11 points capped by a layup that gave Batang Pier the lead, 93-91, with 4:06 left in the game. The 5-foot-11 Romeo actually scored Globalport’s last seven points in that rally either against Caguioa or LA Tenorio.

Not to be outdone, the 6-foot-1 Caguioa answered with a booming three-pointer followed by a pair of free throws to give Ginebra a three-point lead, 96-93, 3:11 to play.

The last time Globalport threatened was when Romeo converted another layup, 103-98, but Caguioa’s third triple in the game proved to be the dagger as it put Ginebra up by eight points, 106-98, with just 41 seconds left in the game.

As the final buzzer sounded, both players scored 14 points each in the fourth quarter, although it was Caguioa who won the scoring battle with 29 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 10-of-12 from the foul line while Romeo had 27 markers on 11-of-16 shooting and 4-of-5 free throws.

Unfortunately, the game was televised live only on cable channel 41 of TV5, and a delayed telecast was aired a few hours later on TV5. Still, some 10,000 fans were treated to one of the greatest games in this young 39th Season of the PBA.

“I was (challenged). Coach Al (team consultant Alfrancis Chua) reminded me din, ‘you guys got to take over’, sabi niya, ‘alagaan niyo itong lead na ito’. Nung lumamang sila, that’s where I started to try to take over the game,” said Caguioa.