[2016 UAAP Finals] Heroics of a collegiate hoops generation’s last remnant

 

PASAY CITY–Philippine collegiate hoops’ version of a jampacked Ginebra San Miguel basketball crowd, that which Ateneo de Manila and Del La Salle universities brought, entered a fourth generation.

Jeron Teng of La Salle saved his Archers from a loss with a clutch shot and a defensive stop in De La Salle University's Game 1 win over the Ateneo de Manila University (photo by Joaqui Flores of Tiebreaker Times, via Facebook)

Jeron Teng of La Salle saved his Archers from a loss with a clutch shot and a defensive stop in De La Salle University’s Game 1 win over the Ateneo de Manila University (photo by Joaqui Flores of Tiebreaker Times, via Facebook)

The first generation had Archer Zandro Limpot winning over Danny Francisco. The second was filled with superstars: Don Carlos Allado and Florendo Ritualo, Jr. capping off the third of four La Salle titles over Enrico Villanueva, Lewis Alfred Tenorio and Larry Fonacier.

The third jump started Ateneo’s five-peat, with Rabah Al-Hussaini and Chris Tiu speaheading the Blue Eagle dominance in a 2-0 finals sweep of Jayvee Casio, Rico Maierhofer and the rest of the Green Archers.

What about this fourth generation, the imports-laced one? A Cameroonian, Ben Mbala, lorded it over for the Archers. Ateneo de Manila had no more superstar a la Keifer Ravena, so a deep bench of rookies and sophomores and role players.

There’s Jeron Teng, the only remarkable remnant of a fourth La Salle generation of titlists (the other remnant, Jason Perkins, is being benched as Mbala has been dominant).

Whoever are the standouts, or whoever are left to carry a collegiate hoops generation, Ateneo versus La Salle is always the draw.

What a better way for a former titlist named Teng, surprisingly a non-national team member, to tow the Archers to the doorstep of a title, over the Ateneo de Manila University.

Teng the veteran became the second in the La Sallian 1-2 punch that rookie Mbala spearheads. Teng actually missed the first Ateneo-La Salle tussle last Oct. 1; La Salle ruled, 97-81.

La Salle was off to a 12-0 start until the gutsy Blue Eagles, filled with role players, shocked the dominant Archers, 83-71, in the second round.

Teng started it off actually with a bad game 1 of the ongoing UAAP finals: eight points, heading into the dying seconds of regulation. The storyline then proceeded to a heroic tale.

After guard Kib Montalbo stole off Thirdy Ravena in a wild lose ball sequence, Teng got Montalbo’s pass for a lay-in with 15.6 ticks left for a 66-65 breather.

On the ensuing play,  Teng blocked Aaron Black’s shot out of instinct to save the Archers from a near-upset. It’s a 67-65 of a squeaker for the Green Archers.

“I wasn’t getting my flow in the game, and I needed to make up for it on the defensive end,” Teng said. “Good thing I had an adrenaline rush, and I blocked the shot.”

La Salle colored UAAP basketball dominance green this year, until that November shocker by Ateneo, coached by American-New Zealand mentor Tab Baldwin. La Salle was the odds-on favorite to win this year; a 19-6 first quarter lead proved that point.

That was until a 15-point deficit was wiped out and Ateneo evened things up at 52 after 36 minutes.

“I expected [the game to be] this way. If half court teams face off, the team that executes better will win,” La Salle Head Coach Aldin Ayo told sports scribes after the game 1 squeaker.

Teng, for his part, is expecting his glorious ending Wednesday, Dec. 7. If he wins, so ends his UAAP generation which Keifer Ravena, Troy Rosario (National University) and Mac Belo (Far Eastern University) steered.

 

 

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