Staring at a three-point deficit against arch rival Ateneo in the waning seconds of their Final Four encounter, Jeron Teng embarked on a bullish foray to the rim to make a basket and hopefully draw a foul to tie the count at 66.
What ensued though was far from the fairytale ending that the Green Archers had hoped for as the Rookie of the Year fumbled the ball, capping off an improbable run to the semifinals of the 75th UAAP Season.
Led by the youthful Teng, the La Salle squad from last year began to slowly pick up the pieces from the previous seasons, which saw the Green Archers fail to qualify for the top four twice in a span of three years.
The journey back to UAAP championship glory continues in 2013 as the Green Archers make their debut for the calendar year in the 7th edition of the FilOilFlying V Hanes Premier Cup, which spans from April to June. The preseason tilt will feature squads from both the UAAP and NCAA along with debuting CESAFI champion Southwestern University.
Coach Gee Abanilla’s boys will once again be led by Teng who will continue to be flanked by veterans Almond Vosotros, Thomas Torres and Norbert Torres. With just Joshua Webb and Jovet Mendoza graduating from last year’s squad, the competition for the sixteen slots in the UAAP roster will be extremely tight and the players will be using the FilOil tourney, which allows teams to have rosters of up to 20 players, to show the coaching staff their mettle.
Aside from the veterans from last year’s squad, the roster of La Salle for the preseason tilt will also feature heralded newcomers Jason Perkins, Matt Salem, Kib Montalbo, Robert Bollick, Yankie Haruna and Axel Torres.
The Green-and-White will be playing in Bracket B, which is bannered by UAAP finalists Ateneo de Manila University and University of Santo Tomas. Rounding up the group are University of the East, San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Arellano University, Emilio Aguinaldo College and Southwestern University.
Bracket A will feature defending NCAA titlist San Beda College, Adamson University, University of Perpetual Help Dalta System, National University, Far Eastern University, University of the Philippines, Arellano University, College of Saint Benilde and Jose Rizal University.
The top four from each bracket will then qualify for the quarterfinal round where they will then be pitted into a traditional single elimination playoff bracket for the championship. Last year, La Salle finished with a 5-3 slate—good for third in their group—and eventually made it to the finals where the team succumbed to reigning UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks and National University. La Salle won the first two editions of this preseason tourney in 2006 and 2007 behind the tandem of JVee Casio and Rico Maierhofer, but has yet to top the field since then.
La Salle kicks off against UST on April 13 at 4 pm at the FilOil Flying V Arena (formerly The Arena in San Juan) in a matchup between two schools with a storied basketball rivalry dating back to their championship battles in the 1990s.
Though just a preseason tournament, the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup will prove to be an important factor for all participating teams in their pursuit of their collective identity. Plays will be tested, chemistry will be formed and identities will be forged for these squads as the UAAP looms in the near future.