The Total Teng
The scraggly handwriting says “104.” All for posterity, a 16-year-old Jeron Teng holds up the makeshift sign and flashes a smile as league officials take snapshots.
Only a few witnessed that historic high school hoops moment five years ago. Jeron, then a Xavier School star, exploded for 104 points to set the local record for most points scored in a game.
On that day, Teng drained quarter scores of 27, 16, 25 and 26 points on top of 24 rebounds, six steals and a block to power the Xavier Stallions past Grace Christian College, 116-74, in the Tiong Lian Basketball Association, a premier Filipino-Chinese varsity league.
“I was just in third year high school then and I felt so blessed to score 104,” says Jeron, who shattered scoring records not just in the junior ranks, but in major local varsity leagues.
Jeron’s output surpassed the feats of Jose Rizal University’s high school player Joshua Saret, who erupted for 89 points in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Far Eastern University’s Terrence Romeo —a juniors sensation even before starring in the pros—who unleashed 83 points in the University of Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). Both records were set in 2009.
Like most high school games, there was also a sparse crowd, most of them the players’ families and friends, during Jeron’s exceptional performance.
It’s a stark contrast now where Jeron’s heroics, and even struggles, get chronicled in various multimedia platforms. And since he suited up for La Salle, it’s not just his on-court exploits that get media mileage.
From the celebrities he dates, to the big brands he endorses, to the magazine covers he graces and TV shows he guests in—pretty much everything about him draws attention.
“My parents have always taught me to stay humble,” says Jeron, the son of retired pro player Alvin and Susan Teng. “They always remind me to stay grounded, to be happy with all the blessings that we’ve been receiving.”
Alvin, a rugged defender that earned him the nickname “Robocop” in the PBA, likes how his son’s game turned out different from his as Jeron flashes more scoring firepower. “He took after my build, but he can do the things that I couldn’t do before,” says Alvin.
But Jeron admits that he needed some prodding from his father and older brother Jeric, the former University of Santo Tomas stalwart now playing in the pros, to take up the sport.
Wrestling used to be his thing.
“At the start, it was just a hobby for me,” the 22-year-old shares. “Eventually, it became a part of me.”
A hobby that he happened to be good at, as Jeron quickly made it to Xavier’s varsity team in third grade.
“Jeron wasn’t interested at first, unlike Jeric,” Alvin recalls. “So Jeric and I tried to influence Jeron. We spent time teaching him.”
And Jeron appreciates how his family gave him a nudge, as all the success he reaps now stems from basketball: “My dad and my brother, they’re really my mentors in basketball. They always teach me to stay hungry; that every year, I should show some improvement.”
That’s why it proved tough for the tight Teng family, when in 2013, Jeron’s Green Archers and Jeric’s Growling Tigers had to fight for the UAAP crown.
As leaders of their teams, their sibling rivalry played out as one of the most compelling storylines of the season. And it wrapped up in a bittersweet embrace as a triumphant Jeron consoled an emotional Jeric.
“It was really awkward,” recalls Jeron. “We’ve been very supportive of each other. We really help each other in basketball. But on court, we’re competitive. We hate losing.”
Jeron remembers how tough it was celebrating the Archers’ title at centercourt with the sight of his brother hanging his head and shedding tears.
“I was happy that we won the championship, but I also felt my brother’s loss,” shares Jeron, who bagged the Finals Most Valuable Player award, just a year after copping the Rookie of the Year plum. “I felt bad for him.”
But the end of their on-court rivalry hardly lessened the pressure for Jeron, who in his fifth and final year, remains as one of the league’s biggest names.
“There’s always added pressure when you’re playing for La Salle,” says Jeron. “Every year, people see La Salle as among the top teams.”
But Jeron had his share of disappointments and bashers, as well, as he has been accessible on social media with over half a million followers on Twitter and over 400,000 on Instagram.
This season, though, the Archers have been playing the top-team role to the hilt with Jeron finding a tag team in the dominant Cameroonian Ben Mbala.
A crown to cap the King Archer’s storied varsity career. And Jeron certainly wants that: “I think it will be a perfect scenario.”
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