Mendoza: With Romeo around, who needs Blatche?

Al S. Mendoza

FIRST, a stunning 96-87 spanking of China.

Second, an 84-68 rout of Iraq.

Who is next on the chopping block?

And, are they really for real? Our Gilas boys manhandling supposedly taller, heftier and beefier opponents—and doing it both times with ridiculous ease yet?

This is the Fiba Asia Cup, where height is, well, might all over again.

In 2013, we finished second in Manila, duplicating the feat in 2015 in Changsha, China.

The champ in 2013 was Iran, in 2015 China.

Us in 2017—finally?

Jayson Castro Williams was chosen the No. 1 point guard both in 2013 and 2015.

It is not yet official but indications point to another Filipino winning that coveted plum again.

Looks like it won’t be Castro anymore. Fine. His looming successor is as worthy of the crown, though: Terrence Romeo.

In Gilas’ wins over China and Iraq, Romeo was top scorer with 26 and 17, points, respectively.

If Romeo should proceed to succeed Castro, it should also be met with the lustiest of cheers.

After his eight straight points sparked the Gilas Pilipinas’ victory over China in Game 1, Romeo has tantalizingly tabbed himself as the guard to beat in Beirut, Lebanon.

What was so amazing in the China win was it came despite the ejection of Calvin Abueva for head-butting in the first quarter.

Abueva’s banishment reduced Gilas to only 10 as 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo was still on the injured list.

But with Romeo’s ruthless wrecking wizardry, were Abueva and Fajardo needed at all in that China game?

And, for that matter, who needs Andray Blatche, the naturalized Filipino kuno from the US?

Blatche cited security concerns in opting out of Gilas. Crap.

Mercenaries aren’t supposed to be cowards.

With the right moolah, they plunge to action without throwing caution to the wind.

Anyway, with Blatche and his ilk out of our intrepid squad, we are proving once more that we could still regain lost glory in Asia.

One great triumph for us in this event was in 1973 in Manila, when the late Tito Eduque piloted to victory that team which included, among others, homegrown talents like Robert Jaworski, Bogs Adornado, Jimmy Mariano and the late Dave Regullano, Boy Reynoso and Tembong Melencio.

I was in the bleachers then watching history unfold. Magical.