In the history of De La Salle University, there have been numerous players who donned the Green Archers jersey and made their impact for the Lasallian community.
Two of the most legendary standouts to represent La Salle in the UAAP, though, are Renren Ritualo and Jeron Teng. Both were proclaimed King Archers back in their days, and they helped clinch six championships between them alongside multiple individual awards.
However, it is not common knowledge how much of an impact Ritualo had on his successor’s development back in the Taft school. In an interview with host Migs Bustos, which was held in support of De La Salle Philippines’ Kada-Uno Initiative, the four-time UAAP champion shed light on everything.
“Well si Jeron, kase it started nung sa Gatorade project namin.
“Siyempre, dalawa kami dun na-feature doon ng Gatorade, tapos I talked to him actually. Wala pa akong… I mean kaka-retire ko lang nun eh from the PBA, from the pros. Tapos sabi ko, ‘if you need help, I’m just here. Just give me a call’,” narrated Ritualo.
A few months later, Teng decided to take up Ritualo’s offer. The two La Salle alumni started training at Xavier School in San Juan City at 6:00 AM every day so that the Xavier alumnus could improve his arsenal in a ballgame.
“I approached Kuya Ren para sana to help me improve on my shooting, pero si Kuya Ren, he did more than that.
“Parang naging mentor ko na siya. He would give me advice, especially nung first few years ko sa PBA. I was struggling (but) he was there for me. He would give me advice on what to work on. Until now, ganun pa rin approach niya sa akin, so I’m really thankful for Kuya Renren,” shared Teng.
From those sessions, Ritualo and Teng built mutual respect for one another. Particularly, the former Talk N’ Text Tropang Texter felt impressed by the hard work put in by the Alaska Aces forward during their sessions.
“Si Jeron kase, I admire him talaga kase nung nasa college pa lang siya, kase nasa top of his game siya eh. Parang dominant siya sa liga, sa UAAP. Pero he’s there and he’s looking to improve himself and be a better player,” said the 40-year old.
“He’s really committed to being the best player he can be, so I’m there talaga to give it all.
“Kung ano ‘yung experience ko before, ‘yung mga hindi ko nagawa, ‘yun ‘yung mga sinasabi ko sa kanya. Mga lapses ko before, I tell him ito ‘yung mga nangyari before. Kung ano rin ‘yung mga maganda kong ginawa, sinasabi ko din sa kanya. So ‘yun ‘yung naging relationship namin. Parang naging maganda. Okay naman kami kung nag-uusap kami, nag-te-train kami. Lahat ng hihingin ko sa kanya, ginagawa niya so he gained respect from me,” added the former national team player.
Considering the development of Teng’s game throughout his stint with La Salle, the effects of Ritualo’s coaching cannot be disputed. In fact, the 26-year-old’s vast improvement under the 2009 PBA champion’s tutelage would come back to haunt the latter when he was an assistant coach with the Adamson University back in Season 79.
“Actually, nag-improve nga shooting ko dahil kay kuya Ren kasi first four years ko, hindi ako nag-jump shot eh. Kahit mid-range. Pagdating nung fifth year, medyo nakita ng mga teammates ko na na-improve ko na mid-range (game) ko, even ‘yung free throws ko, which I really struggled a lot. Doon talaga ako tinulungan ni Kuya Ren. Sana hindi na-regret ni Kuya Ren ‘yun nung nagkita kami sa semis (nung 2016),” explained the two-time UAAP gold medalist.
Teng was referring to the the Green Archers’ Final Four clash with the Soaring Falcons back in 2016.
The Season 79 Finals MVP sank jumpshots throughout the game, with the most important coming at the 2:25 mark of the fourth quarter when he converted near the charity line to extend La Salle’s lead to 67-64 towards an eventual 69-64 win.
“Hindi ko malimutan ‘yung jump shot na ‘yun eh, sa free throw (line),” quipped Ritualo.
“Turo siya ni Rainman eh! Sabi ko sa teammate ko ‘turo siya ni Rainman eh’,” responded Teng
A few years later after that game, Teng took everything he learned from Ritualo to heart. It is safe to say that whenever the Business Management graduate takes a jumpshot or a free throw, that in itself is part of the 2002 PBA Rookie of the Year’s legacy.
“Inayos niya sa akin ‘yung form shooting ko somehow. He encouraged me to shoot a jumpshot lang talaga tsaka ‘yung repetition. Different din talaga for a player when you’re struggling with your shooting to have someone to guide you eh. So ‘yun ‘yung ma-suggest ko sa mga players right now who are watching,” shared Teng.
“If you’re struggling shooting, find someone, one coach lang, who will really guide you kase hirap din ‘pag maraming coaches who will correct your shooting form. You’ll end up more confused eh. Listen to just one coach, si Kuya Renren.”
For his part, Ritualo gains a sense of fulfillment as a coach. For him, it’s all about paying it forward in the game that gave him everything and helping aspiring players reach their full potential.
“Nakakataba ng puso. Nakakatuwa. Na-aattach ako sa (mga players). ‘Yung mga parents, ‘pag nakakausap ko, they call me, they text me ‘We’re so happy. He really improved a lot.’ Mga ganun,” he explained.
“And then it will end up pati ‘yung mga parents, nagpapaturo sa akin.”
Ultimately, it was nice to hear two legends of La Salle basketball discuss how they helped each other to bring further glory to their beloved alma mater, especially for a great cause.
Truly, the legacies of Ritualo and Teng will never be forgotten for the Green Archers. And now, their successors have a challenge on their hands to live up to them.
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