MANILA, Philippines – Jeron Teng picked up from where he left off in his UAAP career as he fired 42 points to power AMA Online Education past Team Batangas, 101-95, in the first game of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Teng, the top pick of the 2016 PBA D-League Rookie Draft, was showered with cheers from the mostly pro-AMA crowd and immediately lived up to the hype as he carried the Titans all game long.
The former De La Salle University star had 19 points in the first half and 16 points in the fourth period alone, while also showing his playmaking skills with nifty passes to his new teammates.
"Ine-expect naming na siya talaga ang magke-carry ng team namin ngayon," AMA coach Mark Herrera said of his prized draft pick. "So, talagang lahat ng opportunity, pag kailangan, binibigay naming sa kanya."
With Teng leading the way, AMA built a 51-37 lead at the half. But Team Batangas – featuring former San Beda stars in Dan Sara and Ogie Menor, and led by the sweet-shooting Joseph Sedurifa – refused to go down easily.
Team Batangas cut the deficit to single digits with a 9-1 blast to open the third quarter, and remained within striking distance the rest of the way. A transition lay-up by CJ Isit with 3:58 left made it a three-point game, 60-63.
Teng took over at that point, scoring six straight points to keep Batangas at bay. Still, by the end of the third quarter, Batangas had a manageable deficit as AMA settled for a 73-68 advantage.
The fourth quarter turned into a showcase for Teng and former Ateneo de Manila University guard Juami Tiongson, as they took turns in carrying the offensive load for the Titans. Teng's fastbreak bucket with under seven minutes to go restored a ten-point lead, 82-72, and Tiongson came through with an and-1 play to help make it a 17-point advantage, 90-72.
Turnovers by AMA as well as the shot-making of Sedurifa and Don Carlo Fortu allowed Batangas to claw their way back, and what was once a 17-point lead dropped to seven, 87-94, with still 56.6 seconds left after Sedurifa anchored a quick 7-0 blast.
It was Tiongson who hit the proverbial dagger, however, as he took control in a broken play, sliced into the lane, and scored on a nifty lay-up to make it 96-87 with just 36.6 seconds left on the clock. Teng went on to ice the game from the free throw line.
"Malaking morale boost sa amin ito," Herrera said of the win. "Siyempre, unang game, panalo, with the crowd na ganyan kadami. Sana, masundan pa."
Teng made 12 of his 27 field goals and 18 of his 23 free throws, added seven rebounds and six assists to his stat line, and got away with four turnovers. Tiongson added 15 points, while AMA mainstays Ryan Arambulo (13 points) and Jay-R Taganas (18 rebounds) had their moments as well.
Sedurifa led Batangas with 25 points on 9-of-20 shooting, while Fortu had 18 points and Isit had 10 off the bench. Batangas shot 40% from the field, a respectable clip, but allowed AMA to convert 52% of their field goals.
AMA 101 - Teng 42, Tiongson 15, Arambulo 13, Olayon 10, Taganas 6, Dario 6, Alabanza 5, Barua 4, Carpio 0, Jordan 0, Bragais 0.
BATANGAS 95 - Sedurifa 25, Fortu 18, Isit 10, Menor 9, De Joya 8, Ablaza 6, Sara 5, Del Pena 4, Anderson 4, Revadavia 4, Laude 2, Mendoza 1, Inciong 0, Delfinado 0.
Quarter-scores: 23-16, 51-37, 73-68, 101-95.
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