What Spiced Up the DLSU-UST Basketball Championships Duel
The Finals of the UAAP Season 76 Men's Basketball tournament has to be one of the most remarkable events in college sports history. The series between the De La Salle University Green Archers and the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers had all the ingredients to make for an immortal championship series: hype, drama, and talent. Both teams have a solid supporting cast, but it was evident right from the start that all eyes were on the Teng Brothers. All these and more captured the interest of the hoops-crazy nation.
Adding to the intrigue of this year's UAAP Finals were the two teams' main weapons: DLSU's super sophomore Jeron Teng and UST's senior sensation Jeric Teng. The sons of former PBA player Alvin "Robocop" Teng became the talk of the town and the subject of lively debates, whether it was about their skills or their looks. The anticipation of seeing these two top-tier college ballers-slash-brothers guarding each other, exchanging elbows, and trying to one-up each other at the grandest stage of the UAAP jacked up the entertainment value of the series.
The fact the Jeron and Jeric have been so vocal about their closeness growing up in all of their interviews even made it more interesting to see them duke it out on the hardcourt.
Hungry for Glory
Another element that made the series a promising one is the fact that both teams were hungry for a championship. UST's last taste of UAAP basketball glory was in 2006 during Pido Jarencio's maiden year as head coach while DLSU last won the title in 2007. Since then, both teams have had their share of heartbreaking setbacks, especially in the Finals against the Ateneo Blue Eagles, which went on a five-year title run.
The Green Archers, which last made the championship round in 2008, landed a spot in the Final Four after turning things around with an impressive 7-0 sweep in the second round. The Growling Tigers, for their part, finished second last year and wanted to get another crack at the title. The España-based dribblers made a magical run after beating the defending champions in a sudden-death playoff, and then eliminating top-seeded National University Bulldogs.
They had the same surname, but clearly not the same game. UST's Jeric relied on smarts and picked his spots. He also did damage at the defensive end, shutting down perimeter and post players with a combination of guile and skill.
La Salle's Jeron, on the other hand, is a scoring machine par excellence. While his outside shooting is yet to be consistent, he can score all over the place. What makes his scoring ability even more impressive is the way he does it. To say that he likes to bang bodies is a gross understatement. He is probably the most physical guard to enter the collegiate ranks in years.
What they do share, was an intense fire and passion for the game. Especially during games, as evidenced by Jeric's pistol hands celebrations and Jeron's scream that would put Spartans to shame. That and their ardent female following.
A Series for the Ages
The Growling Tigers defeated the favoured Green Archers in Game 1 while DLSU bounced back in Game 2 to set up a rubber match. Game 3 was a seesaw battle. The Tigers gained the upper-hand early on, but the Archers made a torrid run and finished the half trailing by one point. After several deadlocks and lead-changes, the two squads ended the fourth quarter still tied. It was during the overtime period when the Tengs rose to the occasion. Jeric hit a tough fadeaway at the side of the court to give the Tigers the lead. Victory seemed to be his - finally for the UAAP's heartbreak kid - but it was not to be. Jeron dished out a pass to point guard Almond Vosotros for a wide open jumper to seal the victory. In the end, La Salle grabbed the championship, but it was the Teng Brothers who took home the glory.
The success of a superstar almost always comes at the expense of another superstar; just so happened that this time, they were brothers. Still, the sight of the two brothers raising each other's hand to show their unity and bond was enough to make this battle one for the ages.