PBA: Travis, Lee and the text message that won Manila Clasico
Paul Lintag on Nov 23, 2018 01:05 PM
50 points from Romeo Travis was the reason that Magnolia won in Game 4, but it was an early-morning text that won the Hotshots Manila Clasico.
It's late one Wednesday night and Romeo Travis casually avoids the media for an interview after Magnolia's Game 3 loss to Brgy. Ginebra in Manila Clasico.
Travis is usually one of the last to leave the Hotshots locker room after each and every game.
Usually, he's with his whole family as he exits the arena. He's usually also very approachable and is a joy to talk to, giving great answers to basketball questions and even the occassional life lessons here and there.
Yeah none of that happened on this particular Wednesday night.
Travis, with an in-ear headset on and a baseball cap, walks with a Magnolia staffer.
The two of them casually side-step the media, using another player being interviewed as a sort of a hard screen in order to get free and get away.
No one will get to talk to him until two days later.
SO WHAT HAPPENED AGAIN?
After back-to-back monster games for Magnolia and a 2-0 lead in Manila Clasico, Travis had his worst PBA performance ever in Game 3.
Travis struggled for 12 points, a career-low. While he scored consecutive lay-ups late in the fourth quarter to give the Hotshots the lead, the veteran forward fumbled an offensive rebound following a wild miss from Paul Lee.
If he grabbed that rebound under the basket, it would have been easy two points for Travis.
It would have been an easy two points and a tied game with four seconds to go in regulation. Magnolia lost by four instead.
And while the Hotshots remained ahead in the series, 2-1, the Gin Kings were charging.
Justin Brownlee just tied his career-high of 46 points in the win and it felt that Ginebra, the reigning two-time champions of the Governors' Cup, was actually up in the series and was ready to roll to another Finals appearance.
Also, while it was no excuse, Travis turned out to be injured in Game 3, dealing with a bum hamstring.
No one would know officially until two days later.
"It's a grade 2 hamstring injury, since yesterday hirap na siya," Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero said of Travis two days later, right after the Hotshots recovered and beat Ginebra in Game 4 of the semifinals, sealing a Finals appearance.
"I trust him, I believe in him. After that Game 3, ibibigay niya lahat. I love this guy and from the beginning, ibang klaseng leadership binigay niya sakin. Grabe ang puso nitong si Romeo," Victolero added of his import.
Despite a bum hamstring, Travis soldiered on in Game 4 of the semifinals.
Coming off a terrible Game 3 performance, it was actually Travis that carried the Hotshots. He had 11 points in the first quarter alone, one shy of his total the game before.
He had 29 after three quarters and finished things off with the first 50-ball of his whole career, leading a last-minute rally for the Hotshots to finally dethrone the Gin Kings.
Fifty points from Romeo Travis was the reason that Magnolia won in Game 4, but it was an early-morning text that won Manila Clasico for the Hotshots.
"Me and Paul [Lee] talked this morning. Paul texted me at 6 a.m. and asked me if I was going to play," Travis said of the conversation he had with his star guard in the morning of Game 4.
"I told him if I can play, I was gonna play. He was like if, 'you're playing, I'm playing.' We both decided at about 7:30 a.m. that we were gonna play and give it a go," he added.
Over the course of the next 14 hours or so, Travis got clearance and dropped 50 points in a Magnolia win.
Lee, bum right knee and all, didn't have the best of games by his standards but his clutch gene came through again, scoring big free throws late to make sure Travis' earlier work will not be wasted.
"I texted him asking how he feels. He said he was gonna play so I was like let's go, let's get it," Lee said of the conversation he had with Travis prior to Game 4.
"If you have an import like Romeo na he keeps on battling the pain, there's no reason na mag-give up ka kaagad, alam mo yun? (there's no reason you should give up that easily, you know)" he added.
A CHANCE FOR REDEMPTION
After his 50-ball and big win over Brgy. Ginebra, Romeo Travis was noticeably emotional after Game 4.
How can he not, he could barely walk the day before and he hasn't run since the win.
"When you have a lot of pain and it's worth it [you become emotional]," Travis said.
"I went through a lot of pain to play and it was worth it. That was emotional, to be able to make it through, get through the pain and make it worth it. It meant a lot to me," he added.
Lee, who sent the text that won Manila Clasico, doubled down on his effort to back up his import.
If Travis can play through his injuries and come through, he can too.
"Kung makikita mo yung import mo na ganun, lumalaban, there's no reason to give up. Lahat lang kami kumuha ng lakas ng loob sa kanya," he said.
Now that he's made it back to the Finals, Travis can win a title for Magnolia, something he didn't do three years ago when he was still suiting up for Alaska.
Ironically enough, the Hotshots will face the Aces in the best-of-7 Finals set to start in two weeks.
"Last time I was here I laid an egg, I played very bad last time I was in the Finals," Travis said.
"I want redemption, that's why I came back," he added.
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