FEU's Terrence Romeo. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNNews.com
MANILA -- (UPDATE 3) Despite promising to return to the Tamaraws next season, Far Eastern University’s superstar guard Terrence Romeo has decided to turn professional instead, as he beat Friday’s deadline for this year’s Philippine Basketball Association rookie draft.
After FEU’s season ended when they were defeated by the De La Salle Green Archers in the Final Four, Romeo vowed to return to school next year to play in his final season for the Tamaraws and shot down the idea of turning pro.
“Siyempre, utang na loob ko sa FEU. Walang Terrence Romeo kung walang FEU,” he said at the time. “’Yung pro, marami pa akong kailangang i-improve bago ako pumunta doon,” he said.
As news came out of Romeo joining the PBA draft, the school’s supporters took to social media to express their disbelief, reminding Romeo of his promise to return to the Tamaraws.
But Tamaraws head coach Nash Racela took to Twitter and asked the FEU community to support Romeo, as well as RR Garcia, who also filed for the rookie draft.
“To d FEU family> Let's all support both RR & TR in their decision to join the draft. This might be the best time for both of them. Let's wish them the best in the pros!” Racela posted.
The UAAP also sent its message of support to the two Tamaraws and other league players who are joining this year’s draft.
“Good luck to all UAAP players in 2013 PBA rookie draft: Jeric Teng, RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo, Ryan Buenafe, and JP Erram,” the UAAP tweeted.
This year's PBA rookie draft is scheduled on November 3.
According to the PBA website, 84 applicants beat the 5 p.m. Friday deadline for those wishing to enter the 2013 rookie draft.
Other collegiate stars who filed for this year's draft include former Ateneo de Manila University players Nico Salva and Justin Chua, as well as Jeric Fortuna of the University of Santo. Tomas.
The PBA said this year's draft pool is notable for the number of available quality big men, citing 7-foot Gregory Slaughter, 6-foot-7 Ian Sangalang and 6-foot-7 Raymond Almazan.
But the league noted that not all of the 84 applicants are expected to make the final list, which will be released on October 30, "with all the documentary requirements still being scrutinized by the PBA."
Nonetheless, the league's website quoted Blackwater Sports coach Leo Isaac as comparing this year's draft the pool to the 2007 NBA draft, which included Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Joakim Noah.
“Kumpletos recados yang pool nay an. May big man, may magagaling na maliit tapos may talent ang wing,” Isaac said. “This is going to be one those that will be remembered for a long time. Maraming sisikat sa grupo na ito.”
Meanwhile, FEU athletic director Mark Molina, speaking to sports website Spin.ph, said school officials have given Romeo to go-ahead to turn pro, adding that the star player "left the school in good terms."
“Kahit ano naman ang desisyon nila, pumapayag kami,” Molina told the website.
Molina also explained that if Romeo doesn't join this year's draft, his next opportunity to join the pro ranks would be in 2015, as next year's PBA draft is scheduled in August, right smack in the middle of UAAP Season 77.
Romeo was named Most Valuable Player of the UAAP Season 76 men’s basketball tournament, beating out National University forward Ray Parks for the league’s top individual award.
Romeo, who led the Tamaraws to a 10-4 record at the end of the elimination round, averaged a league-leading 22.2 points per game to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists.
Spin.ph, quoting unnamed sources, said at least two teams, Barako Bull and GlobalPort, are keen on picking Romeo.
Without mentioning names, Barako Bull Energy coach Bong Ramos told the PBA website about this year's draft:“Pinag-aaralan na nga namin. Kasi we are looking to upgrade our backcourt.”