Jeric Teng and the rest of the UST squad fought tooth and nail against La Salle. -- Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNNews.com
MANILA, Philippines – They worked hard to beat De La Salle University in Game 1, but University of Sto. Tomas' (UST) Jeric Teng believed luck played a big part in their 73-71 win over the Green Archers.
The Tigers raced to a 17-point lead in the first quarter, only to lose it when the Archers caught them in the third canto.
After reclaiming the lead in the payoff period, UST found itself threatened again when Jeric's brother Jeron completed a three-point play and pulled La Salle within one point, 72-73.
Fortunately for the Tigers, the Archers failed to complete the runaround as La Salle choked in the end-game.
“Thankfully, ‘yung breaks of the game [were] on our way,” said Jeric following their victory. “Grabe, muntik na talagang manalo ang La Salle.”
The win enabled UST to snap La Salle’s 9-game win streak that began at the start of the second-round eliminations.
“Swerte lang kami,” said Jeric, who scored 7 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Even UST coach Pido Jarenco admitted he was stunned to see his team win against La Salle, which boasted of a deeper and taller lineup.
Jarencio said Game 1 showed how evenly matched UST and La Salle were. It could have gone either way, he said.
“Ako rin na-shock ako kung paano kami nanalo. Breaks of the game lang,” he said.
“Even nga ‘yung match talaga. Balanseng-balanse, pwede silang manalo, pwedeng kami.”
Jeric, meanwhile, said the Tigers were also motivated by their runner up finish to the Ateneo Blue Eagles last year.
He said UST gained valuable experience when it got swept in two games by a more mature Ateneo lineup in Season 75.
“Sa tingin ko there's no substitute for experience. ‘Yung sa naranasan namin last year against Ateneo, ginamit nila yung experience nila and doon nag-collapse kami,” said Jeric.
“Inisip ko lang talaga na we need to win [this time]. Inisip ko na we're two wins away from the championship na dapat last year pa namin nakuha.”
When asked if he has plans to make adjustments for UST's Game 2 against La Salle this Saturday, Jarencio said he doesn't over-analyze the game.
"Nag-iisip lang ako bago maglaro eh... 'yung after the game hindi na ko nag-iisip," he said. "Basta ako inom lang ako ng masarap na San Miguel Beer ayos na."