Jeron Teng leaves the UAAP stage a big winner. With a stash of 2 UAAP championships (2013, 2016), plus the 2 UAAP Finals MVP awards on both championship runs, a UAAP Rookie of the Year Award (2012) and 4 UAAP Mythical Five Selection awards, Jeron’s scintillating UAAP performance will stand out as one of the best-ever in the league’s recent history.
His first championship in 2012 had a storyline worthy of the movies. The dramatic win was carved out against a favored UST squad that was led by elder brother, Jeric, in a rare brother-against-brother tiff in the finals. Jeric was himself a former UAAP Rookie of the Year awardee and a strong contender for the league MVP award. In the winner-take-all final game, Jeron would tow La Salle to a searing comeback from 15 points down to tie the count at the end of regulation time; then steal the game 71-69 in overtime with an acrobatic basket and an assist in La Salle’s last 2 offensives.
His second and last championship run this year was made even sweeter when he did it against traditional rival, Ateneo. With many different storylines to boot.
Among others, there was the cage pedigree of the teams’ top guns. La Salle was led by Jeron, son of the former PBA great, Alvin Teng. Ateneo had Thirdy Ravena, son of another former PBA star, Bong Ravena. Jeron has an elder brother, Jeric, who now plays in the PBA. Thirdy has elder bro, Kiefer, now with the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League. If there is one man who can rival Jeron’s impressive record in the UAAP, it is Kiefer. (Maybe we could have a 3-on-3 match between the Tengs and the Ravenas in a PBA Family Feud.)
Then there was the team philosophy. It was Ateneo’s system against La Salle’s mayhem. Ateneo introduced a rigid offensive system that had no clear standout in the offense, but would open up numerous opportunities from all angles. This system was introduced by Tab Baldwin, a savvy international coach with a proven record of success in New Zealand and the Middle East. La Salle however took pride in a mayhem defense that would stymie all types of offensives, whether they were artillery bombs from afar or in-your-face ranger-type dagger strikes from up close. The mayhem defense was devised by a local coach, Aldin Ayo, whose phenomenal rise as coaching maestro has bagged him accolades in the PBA, the NCAA and now, the UAAP.
Then there was the case of the foreign flavor in the game. It was Baldwin against Bala. Ateneo’s Tab Baldwin had the brains, but La Salle’s Ben M’Bala had the brawn. Tab worked his magic from the sidelines, willing an underrated Ateneo team to overachieve. Ben however was in-your-face, making his presence felt in the interior. With outstanding numbers in both rebounds and points. Points which he converted mostly through awe-inspiring monster dunks and power plays.
Finally, there was the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry itself. Both teams had annexed 8 championship trophies prior to the face-off. La Salle was favored to win the crown this season. But the over-achieving Ateneans would have none of that. They would upend La Salle’s bid for an immaculate no-loss record with a gutsy win in the season’s second round. Who would the cage gods favor?
But in the end, Jeron would take matters into his own hands. As the saying goes: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. With the championship trophy at stake, and with bragging rights to boot, Jeron would rise to the challenge to quell every uprising the Eagles instigated. Embracing his role as King Archer, Jeron worked his magic effortlessly in both the offensive as well as the defensive end; teaming up with regular season MVP, Ben M’Bala, in frustrating the blue wave.
Jeron leaves the UAAP league not just with the mark of a star, and the mark of a winner. Most importantly, he rides into the sunset with the mark of a champion.