The highly-anticipated De La Salle University (DLSU)-University of Santo Tomas (UST) championship showdown unfurls today with both teams aiming to get a commanding 1-0 lead in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 76 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
Game 1 of the best-of-three series is set at 4 p.m.
Focus will be on the talented Teng siblings—Jeron of La Salle and Jeric of UST—who were unstoppable as they steered their respective teams to the finals.
Undoubtedly, Jeron is one of the main sources of strength of the Green Archers, scoring an average of 17.0 points in their last four games. The 6’2” sophomore had 15 markers as La Salle ousted Far Eastern University (FEU), 71-68, in the Final Four.
“Inside the court, we’re enemies. But at the end of the day, we’re still brothers,” Jeron said.
Jeric, for his part, made a sterling performance when the fourth-seeded UST provided the season’s highlight, slamming the door on top pick National University (NU), 76-69, in its own Final Four game. In that win, Jeric topscored for UST with 19 points.
It was the first time that a No. 4 team beat the No. 1 squad since the Final Four format was introduced in 1994.
La Salle and UST are 1-1 this season with the Growling Tigers winning in the first round in overtime, 63-58, before the Green Archers nailing a 69-64 sweet revenge in the second round.
Overall, UST holds a 3-1 record against La Salle in the finals.
The Growling Tigers defeated the Green Archers in the championship round in 1994, 1995 and 1996. The Green Archers, however, bounced back in 1999 led by team captain Francis Zamora, who is now the San Juan City vice mayor, and current Philippine Basketball Association players Renren Ritualo and Don Allado.
Besides Jeron, La Salle is also expected to get firepower from LA Revilla, Almond Vosotros, Jason Perkins, Norbert Torres and Arnold Van Opstal.
“We just need to stay focused. It’s way different and we need to be prepared for this one,” said La Salle rookie coach Juno Sauler.
Backing up Jeric are Aljon Mariano, Cameroonian Karim Abdul, Kevin Ferrer and Clark Bautista but UST head coach Pido Jarencio hopes to get his second stringers more involved.
The Green Archers’ last finals appearance was in 2008 when they lost to Ateneo de Manila University, 0-2 (61-69, 51-62). The Growling Tigers barged into the finals last year but bowed to the Blue Eagles, 0-2 (78-83, 62-65).