Jeron Teng cast a glance at the shot clock perched atop the basket, patiently dribbling the leather during the game’s dying seconds. In front of him was Blue Eagle Chris Newsome, who had shadowed him throughout the entire contest. But in this crucial possession, with four other Archers waiting for him to make a move and thousands of cheers and jeers raining on him, it was obvious that the play was tailored for the reigning Rookie of the Year.
Teng had hitherto shot the ball only four times, and made only a single basket, while also missing five of his nine attempts from the charity stripe. The former Xavier Stallion had been mercurial throughout his sophomore year after an auspicious debut last season, and this was clearly not his best game. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Undaunted, Teng made his move from the top of the key, drove towards the basket, spun against a couple of defenders, before hoisting a contested turnaround jumper over Newsome. A year ago, in another game that hung precariously in the balance, he took a similar shot against UST’s Kevin Ferrer and won a game for the Archers.
This game would give further credence to that adage about history having that habit of repeating itself, because Teng would make the shot and once again give La Salle another victory on his endgame heroics.
Despite struggling for most of the contest, Teng made the game-winning basket on a turnaround jump shot with 1.9 seconds remaining to lift the Green Archers against arch-rival Ateneo, 66-64, earlier today at the Araneta Coliseum in the second round of UAAP Season 76.
The victory was the fourth straight for La Salle, giving them a 7-4 win-loss record, which is good enough for third in the standings, behind NU (8-3) and FEU (8-4). La Salle likewise swept Ateneo in the elimination round for the first time since 2001, during the last year of their four-peat championship under former mentor Franz Pumaren.
Teng finished with eight points, along with a rebound and a block. Almond Vosotros, who was hounded by Kiefer Ravena for most of the game and had only three points to his name by the end of the first half, finished with a game-high 19 (ten in the final period) along with six rebounds. Another double-double performance was rendered by Jason Perkins, as he finished with 15 rebounds and 13 points, while LA Revilla provided a spark during the first half, finishing with 11 points, seven rebounds, an assist and a steal.
With La Salle leading by a basket, 64-62, Ravena drove to the lane and managed to make a tough jumper over Vosotros, knotting the count at 64 with 14 seconds left in the contest and setting up the stage for Teng’s game-winning basket.
Jason Perkins rattled in a triple with a little over four minutes remaining to give La Salle its biggest lead of the match, 60-53. Ateneo, which led for most of the contest, once more got back into the thick of things after back-to-back baskets by senior point guard Juami Tiongson, the last of which whittled their lead down to two, 59-61, forcing La Salle to sue for time.
After a couple of empty possessions for both squads, Ateneo Head Coach Bo Perasol was whistled for a technical foul with exactly a minute remaining in the game, giving La Salle two free throws plus ball possession. Vosotros coolly sank both charities to pad La Salle’s lead to four, but Ryan Buenafe answered with a triple of his own that trimmed the advantage to just a solitary point. Teng would get fouled in the ensuing possession, and made one of two at the line to give the Archers a slim 64-62 advantage that would lead to Ravena’s basket.
Down by two points after two quarters, La Salle began the third period with a basket by Norbert Torres and a triple by Vosotros, but the Blue Eagles quickly uncorked an 11-2 run that gave them a six-point margin, 44-38. Revilla would cut into the Ateneo lead by scoring four straight points, but former Archer Nico Elorde rifled in a triple to give the Eagles a five-point lead.
Rookie Matt Salem would late score on a jump shot with two seconds left in the quarter to allow the Archers to head into the pay-off period down by three points, 46-49.
After a tightly contested first period, Ateneo enjoyed their largest lead of the game at 33-24, after a split at the line by Ravena with barely two minutes left before the halftime break. Four charities by Arnold Van Opstal and Jason Perkins and a triple at the halftime buzzer by Vosotros, however, would cut that lead into only two, 31-33, as both teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
Tiongson led the Eagles with 14 points, four boards, and two assists, while Elorde had four rebounds and three assists to go with his 13 markers. Ravena shot a measly 6-for-13 from the field, while faring no better from the line with a 3-for-8 (37%) shooting clip.
Overall, the Eagles shot 31.8% from the field, while La Salle fared a little better with a 38.6 shooting clip. Both teams, meanwhile, battled to a stalemate on the boards after finishing the game with 46 rebounds each.
Notes: Rookie Kib Montalbo filled in ably for the absence of Thomas Torres, who was suspended after committing an unsportsmanlike foul in their game last week against UP. The guard from Bacolod played fifteen minutes and scored three points along with three boards, a couple of steals, an assist, while committing no turnovers;
The Next Game: The Green Archers are riding high on the crest of their four-game winning streak, and will seek their fifth consecutive win against the UE Red Warriors this Wednesday, September 4, at 4pm.
La Salle- 66- Vosotros-19. Perkins-13, Revilla-11, Teng-8, Torres-6, Van Opstal-4, Montalbo-3, Salem-2, Tampus-0, Reyes-0, Dela Paz-0, Bolick-0
Ateneo-64- Tiongson-14. Elorde-13, Ravena-12, Buenafe-9, Newsome-8, Pessumal-4, Golla-2, Erram-2, Tolentino-0, Enriquez-0, Capacio-0
Quarterscores: 13-16, 31-33, 46-49, 66-64