La Salle's Jeron Teng squeezes past two FEU defenders. -- Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA – A disappointed Jeron Teng said the De La Salle Green Archers lacked mental toughness at the end of their game against Far Eastern University yesterday, which the Tamaraws won 74-70 after the defending champions' rally fell short.
The Green Archers were able to climb out of an 8-point hole with 3 minutes remaining and were still within 1 point, 70-71, with under 9 seconds left when they sent Mike Tolomia to the line off a duty foul from rookie guard Julian Sargent.
Tolomia made his first free throw but missed the second. Shockingly, the FEU guard was able to get his own rebound and scored a lay-up to end La Salle's hopes of a comeback.
"Sayang, kasi we could have won it," said a subdued Teng after the game. "We were up nung first half, so I think this game was… we lacked mental toughness lang talaga, especially in the end with the free throw and the rebound."
Teng, who was overheard telling Tolomia to miss his free throw in the final play, said they will "learn from that mistake."
"For sure, may nagkamali," he said. "Wala, we'll just try to learn from that."
Teng scored 28 points to go along with eight rebounds and four assists in the game, but his efforts were negated by Tolomia's heroics in crunch time. The Tamaraw finished with 22 points of his own, 19 of which came in the second half.
Teng, however, refused to say that he lacked support from his teammates even though center Norbert Torres was the only other La Sallian in double figures with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"The problem wasn't on our offensive end, it was on the defensive end. The first half, we limited them to 26 points, but the second half, it blew up," said Teng.
"Feeling ko, mental lang talaga," he added. "I believe in my teammates talaga. Siguro, coming into this game, hindi lang kami ganoon ka-focused."
The loss ended a string of seven consecutive wins for La Salle and put them in a tie for second to fourth places along with Ateneo and National University.
"Every game, we take it seriously. Especially in the second round, every game is crucial," said Teng. "Talo kami ngayon, so next game kailangan namin pag-igihin pa."