MANILA, JUNE 16, 2007
(STAR)  By Joey Villar - Inspired by Crispa’s grand slam, he dreamed of earning such cage accolade and nurtured it for 24 years.

Thursday night at the sweltering hard court south of the city, Mikee Romero fulfilled the dream with Harbour Centre’s grand slam, sweeping past Cebuana Lhuillier-Pera Padala in the PBL Unity Cup.

“It was a dream come true for me,” said Romero, hours after the Batang Pier became only the fifth PBL club to gain a three-peat after ESQ, Stag Pale Pilsen, Tanduay and Welcoat Paints.

“I really dreamed of winning one for myself when I watched Crispa capture a Grand Slam in 1983 when I was still a child,” recalled Romero. “I never really thought I could win one and yet here I am celebrating, one. I’m really happy.”

He added: “The most important thing is to dream,” he said. “Without it, you have no motivation, no driving force that would guide you to achieving your goals.

Romero recalled talking to team owners who have achieved the feat – Raymund Yu and Terry Que from Welcoat and Bong Tan of Tanduay – and asking them what would it take to earn such accolade. “They said it wouldn’t be easy and whoever said it would be easy have utter disrespect to the achievements of these owners because it’s hard to win three straight titles,” he added.

Romero, however, pointed at his hardworking coaching staff and players as the main reasons for the franchise’s recent success.

“Coach Jorge (Gallent) and Junel (Baculi) got the job done, the players, too. Particularly the ones planning to play in the PBA,” said Romero referring to JC Intal, Chad Alonzo, Ryan Araña, Chico Lanete, Beau Belga and Jason Castro.

They were the heart and soul of the team.

Intal, for one, is a vital cog both in offense and defense. Alonzo, Araña and Belga provided the Batang Pier’s inside strength while Lanete and Castro, the back-to-back Finals and conference MVPs, respectively, their driving force.

“I wouldn’t stop them from going for their dream of playing in the PBA just like I did when the likes of Mac Cardona, LA Tenorio, Joseph Yeo and Larry Fonacier were still with my team,” he said.

“I’m like a production line of players, when they’re ready to go to the PBA, we release them. I accepted that role,” he said.

For Gallent, he had gone full circle by being part of two grand slam teams (Stag and Tanduay) as a player and as a coach.

“I can’t ask for more,” said Gallent, who will coach the San Sebastian Stags in the coming NCAA basketball wars.

Will a four-peat be possible for Harbour?

“I’m still not thinking of that right now,” answered Romero.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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