Before making the jump to the collegiate level, Jeron Teng entertained the prospect of playing alongside his brother, Jeric. But his desire to play for his dream school prevailed.
After a decorated stint for Xavier in high school, Jeron went on to play for La Salle, during the time Jeric had already emerged as the University of Santo Tomas' top gunner.
Speaking on 2OT on Friday, Jeron thought it was better for him and Jeric to don different colors in the UAAP.
"Feeling ko kasi mas maganda na magkahiwalay kami kasi parehas kami postion," said the younger Teng, who admitted he also got offers from Ateneo and National University.
"Kapag UST ako nasa shadow lang ako ng brother ko. Syempre I'm also trying to make a name for myself."
It turned out he made the right decision.
Jeron made waves right away for the Green Archers, winning Rookie of the Year honors. Then he led the team to the finals in his second year against Jeric and the Growling Tigers.
The series shaped to be a battle between the siblings who refused to treat each other with kid gloves. The two traded one big shot after another during the crucial stretch of Game 3 that had all the trappings of a classic which no one could've scripted better.
Jeron emerged victorious. But he ended up crying after winning the championship at his brother's expense.
"Nanalo nga ako but I got sad after. Umiyak ako," he admitted. "I thought I'd be happy but naiyak ako dahil naawa ako sa brother ko. Brother ko natuwa naman kasi nag-champion na ako."
He added: "It's very unforgettable. It made our brotherhood stronger. We're both competitive. Talagang walang bigayan. Laro talaga. We wanted to win for our schools. Pag tapos nun nag tawanan na lang kami."
Redeem team under Ayo
Jeron left the UAAP the same way he came in.
After missing the playoffs the previous season, Teng was hell-bent on winning the championship in his fifth and final year for La Salle, which was parading a new head coach in Aldin Ayo.
"Redemption mode ako nung fifth year. Kailangan ko makabawi kasi hindi kami nakapasok final four the previous year. Last year na so double effort kami lahat. Lahat kami very hungry to win that year."
The Green Archers, powered by Teng, Jason Perkins, and Ben Mbala, did. Much of their success that year could be attributed to Ayo and the system he put in place. Training under Ayo was hard, to say the least, said Teng.
"Si coach Aldin grabe siya sa preparation sa practice. We used to practice 4 to 5 hours a day. Magra-run lang kami plays kasi ang dami naming plays, all in all may mga 30 or 40 plays sya all in all," he said. "Kailangan alam mo lahat. Minsan 2 hours kami nagra-run lang kami plays. Very detailed talaga. Sa defense puro kami."
Their sacrifice paid dividends.
"I guess it really takes commitment. We all had to lose weight that time... We really sacrificed talaga. We spent more time sa gym at sa PT namin for recovery."