| Jeron Teng. File Photo
MANILA, Philippines -- Jeron Teng showed why he is a widely hyped recruit, helping the De La Salle Green Archers escape the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 73-68, and win their first game of the UAAP Season 75 men's basketball tournament at the SM Mall of Asia Arena Sunday.
The Green Archers had led by as much as 16 points in the third quarter, and were ahead by 10 points going into the fourth only to see the Maroons mount a furious rally.
A jumper by Alvin Padilla put the Maroons ahead, 68-67, but Teng converted a difficult lay-up on the other end and was fouled.
The rookie coolly completed the three-point play, and that proved to be the pivotal basket as the Archers' defense would hold up for the final 27 seconds.
Yutien Andrada, who last season suffered an ACL injury, was also vital in the win as he blocked a potential game-winning three-pointer by Jet Manuel with 15 seconds to go.
"It was a tough win for us," said new La Salle coach Gee Abanilla. "UP played really well. They played really tough against us."
Teng's go-ahead three-point play made up for his slow start in the game, as well as his three missed free throws with one minute to go that allowed the Maroons to briefly take the lead.
"I know Jeron, and every time he goes to practice, we, the coaching staff, know what he can do and what he can provide us," said Abanilla, adding that Teng and the other rookies likely suffered from first-game jitters.
The Archers also got a strong performance from much-improved big man Norbert Torres, who scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Veteran point guard LA Revilla was the Archers' engine, tallying 15 points on top of 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Both Torres and Revilla converted free throws at the end to put the game on ice.
The Maroons actually kept the game close in the first half of the game, 35-29, despite shooting an atrocious 25% in the first two quarters.
It was Mike Silungan and rookie point guard Henry Asilum, who kept the Maroons close, scoring 12 and five points, respectively.
In the second quarter, Silungan converted a lay-up to tie the game at 22-all, and then drained a three-pointer to put UP ahead, 25-24.
But the Archers were boosted by Luigi dela Paz, who came off the bench to score seven points in the second quarter.
Abanilla said they will still have to work on their transition defense, but commended the tandem of Revilla and Teng.
"The 1-2 punch of LA Revilla and Jeron Teng is really good, and we have to exploit this also. Hopefully we can do a lot better in the next game," he said.
Silungan finished with 18 points, and the veteran swingman showed off his skills in the fourth quarter when he drained back-to-back jumpers, plus two free throws, to get the Maroons back in the game.
But Silungan also made a crucial mistake in the final seconds, throwing the pass to Manuel for the shot that would be blocked by Andrada.
Asilum, a rookie point guard, finished with 12 points in his UAAP debut.
DLSU - 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, Manguera 0
UP - 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
Quarter scoring: 17-16, 35-29, 56-46, 73-68