LA SALLE stalwart Jeron Teng sent well wishes to older brother and King Tiger Jeric before University of Santo Tomas headed into last Saturday’s do-or-die match against National University.
“I told him to give his all,” said Jeron. “I told him this might be his last game, so there’s nothing more that he should reserve.”
That might be the last of the pleasantries between the two basketball brothers, though, as they play for opposite sides in the UAAP men’s championship this week.
Jeron and the Green Archers claimed the first championship berth after disposing of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the semifinals while stretching their winning streak to a remarkable nine straight games.
Three straight KO games
Jeric and the Growlings Tigers, though, amazingly survived three straight knockout games to become the first No. 4 seed to advance to the UAAP Finals.
“After everything we went through, we really want to win the championship this year,” said Jeric, who’s in his final year with the Tigers.
The Tigers passed their first all-or-nothing test when they clinched the last semifinal berth against the Ateneo Blue Eagles on the final day of eliminations.
A few days later, the Tigers got a new lease on life by stunning the Bulldogs, 71-62, at the start of their semifinal showdown before ousting the top seed, 76-69, in their winner-take-all match last Saturday at the packed Mall of Asia Arena.
“We’re not thinking about our [sibling] rivalry,” said Jeric. “Of course, I know he wants to win because La Salle hasn’t won a championship for a long time. But we also want to win because our team is doing very well.”
Game 1 of the Archers-Tigers best-of-three Finals starts on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I won’t be going home first; I’ll just stay in the dorm,” Jeron said with a laugh.
But the sibling showdown is a welcome problem for the Teng family, including father Alvin, the former PBA bruiser nicknamed “Robocop.”
‘They’re both champions’
“Whoever wins, they’re both champions for me,” said Alvin. “We’re just very happy [that both of them are in the Finals].”
Jeron said he doesn’t want his family taking the green or yellow side during the series, though.
“I guess the family should just wear neutral colors,” said Jeron, who bagged the Rookie of the Year award last season, three years after Jeric won the same award.
“Hindi maiiwasan, may time na kami ng brother ko, magbabantayan talaga (We can’t avoid it, there will be times that my brother and I will be defending each other),” said Jeron. “It’s not going to be easy.”
For the Tengs, indeed, it will be a tough yet thrilling time.