Throughout his five-year career as a DLSU Green Archer, Jeron Teng built up his name into something almost synonymous with La Salle Basketball. The recently graduated forward was a Mythical Five member multiple times and led DLSU to two championships during his stay at Taft Avenue.
Another key cog of those championship teams was longtime starting point guard Thomas Torres. Like Teng, he was vital to DLSU’s recent success and also recently graduated from playing for the team from Taft. Since graduation, both have played in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) D-League’s newly formed team, the Flying V Thunder.
Suiting up for a Flying V Thunder team that is playing exhibition games against different teams participating in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup, Teng and Torres are also joined by former Green Archers Joshua Webb, Jovet Mendoza, Gab Banal, and Oda Tampus.
With the situation, it was a strange sight for the La Salle faithful, including the current members of the Green Archers and the coaching staff, to have two of last year’s leaders on the opposite bench. “It was a fun experience. In a way, it was bittersweet because I’m not there on the bench anymore, ibang uniform na yung sinusuot ko. Masaya makalaban ang former team mo,” explained Torres, after facing his former team for the first time.
(In a way, it was bittersweet because I’m not there on the bench anymore, I wear a different uniform. It’s fun to face your former team.)
For head coach Aldin Ayo, playing against his former players was a good learning experience for both his team and his former players. “Every time we play against each other, we always push our limits. That’s how we help each other eh. And JT [Teng] and Tommy (Torres) know that.”
Teng echoes the sentiment, sharing the same feelings with Ayo as to looking at the game as a way to learn. “I wanted to give my best [and] to be able to help [La Salle] out, and at the same time, learning experience din ito for us because we know na La Salle is the best UAAP team as of now.”
While the Thunder eventually fell to the Green Archers, 88-72, both Teng and Torres had respectable games against their former team. The former captain finished with 24 points, while Torres would end with 12 points and two assists.
“I know their tendencies, but knowing Tommy and JT, they keep improving. From December 7, the last time we were together, they improved a lot. I know their attitudes. As long as they’re playing, they continue to improve,” explained Ayo.
After the game, the two said they were able to recognize a few plays from their collegiate days, which helped them a bit during the game. “There were some plays, because in La Salle, we’d really run the plays a lot, so I still knew a lot of them but they also added a lot of new ones,” Teng explained.
In the game, Teng would also be on the receiving end of a Ben Mbala block that garnered a smile from the two former teammates. Even with that, however, everyone involved could only take away positives from the experience.
“We’re still trying to improve as a team, and them too. This game will help in that,” said Torres.
In the end, both former DLSU stalwarts were left impressed with what La Salle was still able to put on the floor, even with their graduations from the team. The point guard would go on to say, “Malakas sila (They’re strong). They’re still the team to beat and they’re going to defend the championship for sure in the UAAP.”