National team rookie Terrence Romeo scored 12 points in the final period to power the Gilas Pilipinas national team to a close 84-81 win over New Zealand’s Wellington Saints in the MVP Cup at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City (Metro Manila) on Saturday.
The flashy Romeo tallied 18 points, including the two important free throws with 7.7 ticks left in the game clock that secured the game for the national team in the special four-team tournament meant to help Gilas Pilipinas prepare for the FIBA Asia championships in Changsha, China.
Romeo’s dazzling performance also erased New Zealand’s 13-point lead (54-67) late in the third period.
Naturalized player Andray Blatche added 16 points and nine rebounds, while Calvin Abueva posted 10 points and six rebounds for the nationals.
Gilas Pilipinas beat the same New Zealand team in the recent William Jones Cup in Taiwan (92-88) in a match that went overtime.
A win by Gilas Pilipinas against Taiwan on Sunday would earn them the crown.
In the first game, Talk ‘N Text leaned on this year’s top overall pick Moala Tautuaa and second overall pick Jeth Troy Rosario to outplay Taiwan 99-91 and bounce back after a humiliating 77-93 loss to Gilas Pilipinas in the opening day.
Tautuaa scored 20 points and hauled down 13 rebounds, while veteran Danny Seigle had 17 points and Dennis Miranda posted 11 points.
Rosario, who was drafted by the Mahindra Enforcer in the recent rookie draft before being dealt to Talk ‘N Text, scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds to hand the Texters a 1-1 win-loss record.