Not too long ago — December 7, 2016 to be exact — Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres ended their UAAP and De La Salle University careers with a championship. 165 days later, the two La Sallians — now part of the Flying V Thunder — were taking on the Green Archers in a hotly-contested tune-up in their home floor Filoil Flying V Centre.
“Medyo weird eh,” La Salle head coach Aldin Ayo admitted about facing Teng and Torres.
But with both the former Green Archers needing to improve their games before heading into the PBA, Ayo and his team made sure not to hold back.
“For sure coming into this game, they know these two guys, yung dalawang seniors namin dati, alam nila na maglalaro ng seryoso talaga,” the reigning UAAP-NCAA Press Corps Coach of the Year explained after La Salle’s 88-72 win over Flying V.
“From December 7 tapos ngayon, malaki nang na-improve ng dalawang yun. Alam ko ugali ng dalawang yun. As long as they’re playing, they’ll continue improving.”
And for 40 minutes, the Green Archers showed both of their former skippers what it is like to experience “Mayhem”. Teng was able to get his numbers, 24 points and four rebounds, but was forced to commit two turnovers. Torres, on the other hand, added 12 points, four rebounds, two assists, and three steals.
“I wanted to give my best lang para to help out kahit paano sa La Salle,” declared Teng, who won two championships with La Salle.
“At the same time learning experience ito for us [Flying V] kasi we know La Salle is the best UAAP team right now. And yun na-challege kami ng sobra.”
One of the La Sallians who enjoyed every minute of sharing the same court with Teng was reigning Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala. The Cameroonian student-athlete tallied 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. But it was his swat on Teng, a chase-down block during the second frame, that made him realize that Teng would no longer be his teammate in the upcoming season.
“We went out there competing with each other, laughing at each other,” the 23-year-old reflected.
“You’re still playing the game of basketball, off the court we’re still friends but on the court you have to do what you have to do.
“That’s why he probably laughed at me when I blocked him, but its part of the game,” Mbala quipped.
Outside of the laughs and jabs thrown during the game, Ayo was able to teach a thing or two to his former players in those 40 minutes they were able to share the hard court once more.
“Siyempre gusto namin competitive. We have that relationship. You won a championship together but again, gusto ko matuto yung mga bata eh,” Ayo stated.
“I want to help them and the best way to help them is to push them to their limits for them to improve.”