Terrence Romeo: The Big Switch

College Hoops

By Josiah Israel Albelda, Yahoo! Southeast Asia

Die-hard Far Eastern University fans would remember Terrence Romeo's record-shattering 83-point explosion in a UAAP juniors match in 2009. He was just a high school senior then.

These days, the five-foot-nine guard is in his second year with the Tamaraws. Come UAAP Season 74, Romeo will be sporting a weapon virtually nonexistent in his arsenal before: lockdown defense.

"Depensa na ang pinakamalakas na parte ng laro ko ngayon," the sophomore also known for his spiky hair told Yahoo! College Hoops.

The change was a bit surprising for Romeo, who averaged 8.0 points and shot 49 percent from the three-point line last season.

"Iba sa college, depensa ang mas mahalaga talaga," he added. "Defense muna ako ngayon bago offense. Kapag maganda nag-defense, dun na papasok ang offense ko."

Romeo attributes the change to difference in style between returning coach Bert Flores and ex-Tamaraw mentor Glenn Capacio.

"Nung nagbago yung coach, nagbago rin yung sistema namin," he said. "Nag-focus kami sa fastbreak at defense."

Capacio is known for his team's more deliberate half-court sets while Flores, the man behind the Morayta-based five's last championship in 2005, will rely on his squad's speed and athleticism to initiate fastbreaks and pressure their opponents more, according to Romeo.

With the core of their Season 74 runner-up squad almost intact, he believes that FEU has a bigger chance to win all the marbles this year, owing to the fact that they have gone through the tragedy that was last year and came back stronger and more united.

"Mas solid kami ngayon," the wily playmaker-cum-slasher said. "Mas buong-buo at nag-improve ang defense naming lahat."

And while Romeo has made the "big switch," teams, especially fellow contenders, are taking notice.

"Grabe ang improvement ni Romeo," De La Salle coach Dindo Pumaren said before their FilOil Flying V Premier Cup quarterfinals tussle.

"I'm overwhelmed," Romeo when told of the words of the ex-PBA point guard. "Masaya kasi nag-improve pala ako. So lalo ko pang pagbubutihin para mabigyan sila ng mas magandang laban."

The former Letran Squire also added that the Green Archers would probably be their biggest foes this season, primarily because of their young core and quickness.

"Aggressive sila mula first hanggang fourth quarter," he said. "Di mo pa masabi kung sino ang puputok."

Romeo has come a long way from his electrifying scoring binges (he averaged almost 40 points per game as a senior) while at FEU-FERN.

Scoring is not my cup of tea now, so says the 19-year-old. As a matter of fact, four of his teammates can deliver the Tamaraws' offensive punch in a snap. After all, what FEU needs from their prized sophomore is defense.