For a few tense moments, La Salle rookie Jeron Teng and the Green Archers looked as if they about to give the game away.
Despite leading by as much as 15 points late in the third quarter, La Salle saw themselves down by one point, 68-67, with 44.7 seconds remaining. But Teng came up big in the clutch as the Green Archers outlasted the UP Fighting Maroons, 73-68, to open their UAAP Season 75 campaign with a win.
Teng finished with 15 points in his UAAP debut, including a crucial three-point play with 27.3 seconds that all but sealed the game. Center Norbert Torres finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds and La Salle co-captain LA Revilla finished with an impressive line of 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
The Green Archers led 55-40 before UP’s Mark Lopez scored six points to close out the third period down by just 10 points, 56-46.
The Fighting Maroons, behind Mike Silungan and rookie Henry Asilum, cut the La Salle lead to four points after Teng was called on an unsportsmanlike foul with 2:21 left. Alvin Padilla then hit a huge three-pointer that brought UP within one, 67-66.
Teng, who scored 13 of his total in a big second half, stepped up to the free throw line for a chance to push their lead back up to three, but the rookie missed all three shots, including an extra free throw after a lane violation was called on the rebound play.
Padilla then put UP over the top with another jumper. But Teng made up for his miscues by finishing a tough layup from the baseline and sank the and-one free throw to give La Salle back the lead.
Yutien Andrada then came up big on the defensive end with a huge block on a Jet Manuel attempt from beyond the arc. Revilla sank two free throws and Torres added one more after another defensive stop to seal the final margin.
La Salle coach Gee Abanilla praised his prized recruit after the game.
“I know Jeron. Everytime we go into practice, we as a coaching staff, know what he can do, what he can provide for us,” he said about his decision to keep the rookie in the game despite the missed free throws.
“I think the one-two punch of LA Revilla and Jeron Teng is really good. We have to exploit this also and hopefully do a lot better in the next game.”
“I had a bad start to the first quarter,” said Teng about his debut. “Nag-adjust ako kasi yung FilOil iba sa UAAP. Mas mabilis yung UAAP. Buti sa second half nakabawi.”
Silungan scored 18 points to lead UP while Asilum had 12 is his own debut. Big man Alinko Mbah missed the game for the Fighting Maroons.
La Salle (73) – Torres 16, Teng 15, Revilla 15, Andrada 10, Dela Paz 9, Mendoza 6, Webb 2, Van Opstal 0, Paredes 0, Vosotros 0, Gotladera 0, Tallo 0, Maguera 0.
UP (68) – Silungan 18, Asilum 12, Lopez 10, Soyud 8, Padilla 7, Manuel 5, Ball 4, Romero 2, Hipolito 2, Wierzba 0, Montecastro 0, Gamboa 0, Gallarza 0.
Source: Mikkel Bolante, InterAKTV