SportsSeniors spearhead Green Archers’ run to 9th UAAP title
Seniors spearhead Green Archers’ run to 9th UAAP title
December 18, 2016
December 18, 2016

As the final buzzer sounded, four men held their hands up high and shouted for joy for one last time. Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Thomas Torres, and Julian Sargent capped off their careers in a way all athletes dream of but only a few achieve: winning a championship. After three years of mixed results, the Green Archers took back the title by sweeping their archrivals, the ADMU Blue Eagles.

On paper, Teng and Ben Mbala seemed to be the ones carrying the team. However, every person on the squad played a special role in what was a dominant season for DLSU. In their title-clinching Game 2 victory, the four seniors were responsible for 46 percent of the total point output of La Salle as they scored 36 of the team’s 79 points.

As they leave the University as champions, The LaSallian looks back at each of the four graduating Green Archers, who despite their varying roles, played an integral part in the run to La Salle’s ninth championship.


The King Archer reigns supreme

Jeron Teng has evolved from a highly-touted rookie with questionable shot selection to one of college basketball’s most dependable closers in the endgame. With each passing season, the Xavier alumnus has made efforts to develop certain facets of his game, the result of which was two championships in five years.  

His sophomore season saw his percentages drop from 16.19 points and 6.69 rebounds in 2012 to 15.32 points and 7.16 rebounds in 2013. It was not a sophomore slump as he showed he could become an all-around player, evident by his higher averages in assists (3.16 from 2.69) and steals (0.95 from 0.19). All his work on the court bore fruit when he led the Green Archers to the championship over the UST Growling Tigers in three games. Despite facing a stacked lineup of veterans, Teng picked his spots on offense and passed out of double-teams when needed, evidenced by his game-winning pass to Almond Vosotros, who hit the go-ahead basket with 20 seconds left to seal the series for DLSU in Game 3.


2014 saw the then-reigning Finals MVP post averages of 17.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists but he could not lead the Green Archers to back-to-back titles as they fell to the FEU Tamaraws off a Mac Belo buzzer beater that sent La Salle into the offseason. The following season, Teng’s career high 18.15 points per game were not enough to bring DLSU as they were eliminated by FEU once again.

Wanting to end his career on a strong note, Teng opened his final season by avenging their heartbreaking losses to FEU with 28 points in their 83-78 win over the Tamaraws. Despite missing two games due to a foot injury, Teng was the go-to guy for the Green Archers when they needed a basket in the dying seconds of a game. He left it all out on the court in the finals as he made the crucial basket and block in Game 1, while he took over in Game 2, scoring 28 points to lead DLSU’s sweep of ADMU.

“Right from the start palang, gusto ko lang igive yung best ko na,” Teng said after winning his second title.


Hefty Lefty delivers

Lost in the development of Teng’s on court performance was the steady presence of Jason Perkins, who nearly averaged a double-double in his first season in DLSU with 12.7 points and 9.6 rebounds. Expectations were high the following season as their lineup remained relatively intact and Perkins averaged a double-double of 10.4 points and 10.2 rebounds through 17 games. Unfortunately, he was the defender tasked with guarding Belo on that final three-pointer that broke the collective hearts of the Lasallian community.

2014 may have been Perkins’ best statistical season, but the next season proved to be the year his struggles were parallel to that of his team. His averages significantly dropped, and he could not establish himself in matchups he would normally dominate.


There were doubts as to whether he would play out his final year with La Salle, as he did not suit up for the Green Archers in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup or in their other preseason tournaments. It was only with a few months left before Season 79 that Perkins started attending practices with the team. Compounding his uphill climb was the fact that he suffered a knee injury prior to the season opener that forced him to play only eight games this season.

It may have been his worst statistical season on paper, but Perkins made sure the intangibles he provided on the court were evident. Going beyond his averages of 4.3 points and 4.4 rebounds, his nose for the ball and his energy off the bench helped when Ben Mbala would be on the bench. Shades of the 2013 Perkins came out in Game 2 of Season 79’s Finals when he converted on a three-point play with 20 seconds left in the first quarter to extend La Salle’s lead. Though he would only convert one basket, DLSU head coach Aldin Ayo left him on the court in the final quarter as he, Mbala, and Abu Tratter took turns in fending off the Blue Eagles from the paint.

“We just went to work everyday to get to where we are. I accepted whatever role coach gave me and I’m just glad to be here now [with another championship],” said Perkins after sweeping ADMU in the finals.


The homegrown kid gets another title

Torres never averaged more than eight points per game in his five-year career in La Salle, but it was the intangibles that made him a starter for most of his career. He was among the more active players on the team as he utilized his energy to disrupt the flow of the opponents’ point guards.

The La Salle Green Hills Alumnus never shied away from taking the big shot, but he had a hard time developing a consistent jumper despite being a respectable shooter from the free throw line. Nevertheless, he relished his time with the “mayhem” system as he always among the first few lines of defense, teaming up with Kib Montalbo in disrupting the opponents’ offensive rhythm.


He made sure he wouldn’t put his last year in La Salle to waste as he provided five points, eight rebounds, and two steals in Game 1 of the finals, teaming up with Sargent in locking down the ADMU backcourt in the opening moments of the game. Though he only had three points, three rebounds, and three assists in Game 2, most possessions saw Torres setting up both Teng and Mbala offensively in the title-clinching game.

Well worth the wait for Julian Sargent

Among the four seniors, Sargent played the fewest number of years in La Salle, but also drew the responsibility of having to stop the ADMU backcourt from establishing their rhythm in the finals.

“Whatever the coach needs, whatever coach wants from me, I’m here. I’m just a team player. Anything to get the job done is basically what I’m here for,” said Sargent on his role with the team.

Coach Ayo inserted him into the starting lineup in Game 1, and the results were evident. He scored seven points and provided the defense and playmaking that helped La Salle race to an early lead. Though he played only 10 minutes in each of the two contests after suffering from foul trouble, Sargent provided the spark that brought mayhem back into the fold and secured the championship for the Green Archers. Season 79 saw him average the fewest minutes of his career, but he was always ready to answer Ayo’s call as evidenced by his performance in the finals.


Sargent’s best season was in his first year in 2013, as he averaged six points and converted on 40 percent of his three-pointers. He is more than just a catch-and-shoot player as his quickness and athleticism allow him to create space and set up his other teammates on offense.


The near future

With their college careers having come to a close, Teng, Torres, Perkins, and Sargent will now turn their attention to developing their games for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Perkins and Sargent have already spent time in the PBA D-League playing for Racal Motors and the AMA University Titans, respectively, while Teng has made himself available for the D-League’s draft, which is scheduled on December 20.

If the finals could serve as a testament to the potential of the team for the coming years, then the likes of Montalbo, Aljun Melecio, and reigning league MVP Ben Mbala will keep the Green Archers title contenders for the next couple of years.

“Play hard, be smart. I’m so proud of the younger guys because they picked it up,” Perkins said on his younger teammates.

“Well, their leadership is the most important [quality] and they led us all throughout,” Montalbo said after the Game 2 victory, describing the importance of the veterans on the team.