The Games That Play Us: Adrenaline Junkies

Jeric Teng put on a helluva show as the Tigers
returned to the win column.


The UST Growling Tigers and their loyal following seem to be hooked on adrenaline. I’m not sure if they actually mean for every game to be a heart-stopper, but, somehow, that’s just the way things have turned out for them. The more interesting thing, however, is how they’ve been able to come out winners in majority of these cardiac contests. UAAP TV anchor Marco Benitez has fittingly dubbed them the “Comeback Cats,” and this game against the Soaring Falcons will go down in history as another example of the Tigers’ Houdini-like ability to escape defeat (most of the time).

The star of the show this time around was a resurgent Jeric Teng, who was probably raring to bounce back after he has gradually drifted into the background due to his MCL injury and the upward play of his younger bro, Jeron.

The elder Teng played one of the best games of his collegiate career, reminding everyone of why he was a highly-coveted recruit a few seasons ago. The former Xavier superstar pumped in a season-high 22 points on the strength of 5 triples. He also added 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in an impressive all-around effort. What’s even more impressive than the aggregate numbers, though, is WHEN Teng lit up the scoreboard.

The Tigers were having it tough in the first half as they weren’t able to shake off the stubborn Falcons. Behind the 19-point explosion of newcomer Jericho Cruz, Coach Leo Austria’s wards built a 6-point spread at halftime, defying all expectations of a UST win. Teng had scored 8 points by then, which was by itself not bad, but Coach Pido Jarencio needed someone to really step up in the last two periods.

Enter Teng.

He hit two triples in a pivotal third quarter that saw the Black & Gold turn their deficit into a 3-point lead heading into the final frame. Things would continue to be up-and-down in the fourth until Teng hit his fifth and final three with 1:43 to go, snatching the lead from the Falcons for good.

Still, he wasn’t done. Cruz refused to let Adamson lose, taking matters into his own hands and driving past birthday boy Clark Bautista with under 15 ticks to go, but Teng was there for a deftly placed tap that enabled Bautista to make off with the ball. He was fouled by Eric Camson, and his freebie padded the final count.

Needless to say, Jeric Teng came up big, and it was at a very critical time for the Tigers. A loss would’ve sent them to a tie with twice-tormentors FEU, but this victory puts them a step closer to at least a playoff for a Final Four slot. And considering how tight things have been, one more win might actually be good enough to send them straight into the postseason.

Of course, Teng couldn’t have done it alone. Karim Abdul and Aljon Mariano combined for 35 points and 21 rebounds to help the España crew survive. If both frontliners can remain consistent, then the Tigers have a legit title shot in the offing.

This was an ironic outing for Adamson’s Cruz, whose 33 points is a personal career-high and a season-high for any Falcon. In contrast to his potency, however, the usually dynamic duo of Camson and Rodney Brondial struggled in this one. Both guys have been steady double-double machines of late, but they only managed a combined 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting. They were able to grab 17 rebounds total, but that hardly mattered when the Falcons needed their offense more.

The Growling Tigers have it easy on two of their last three playdates, with the Ateneo Blue Eagles the lone “power” team sandwiched between the enigmatic Fighting Maroons and the bottom-dwelling Red Warriors. As long as UST stays true to form, then they have the inside track not just to a Final Four slot, but a twice-to-beat edge as well. Given all these, it’s little wonder that those adrenaline junkies in España are probably already salivating at the prospects.

Aljon Mariano's double-double helped UST
bounce back after their close loss to DLSU.

Jericho Cruz's 33 points went to waste as
the Falcons lost a late fourth quarter lead.

The Tigers move up to solo second after winning for
the 8th time in Season 75.

The scores:

UST 83 – Teng 22, Abdul 19, Mariano 16, Bautista 11, Ferrer 8, Fortuna 7, Vigil 0, Pe 0, Lo 0, Afuang 0
AdU 79 – Cruz 33, Rios 12, Etrone 11, Trollano 7, Camson 5, Cabrera 5, Brondial 5, Agustin 1, Monteclaro 0, Abrigo 0
QS: 16-16, 36-42, 61-58, 83-79
Key Performances:
Karim Abdul (UST) – 19pts, 9rebs, 3blks, 2asts, 1stl
Aljon Mariano (UST) – 16pts, 12rebs, 4asts, 1stl
Jeric Teng (UST) – 22pts, 6rebs, 5 treys, 2asts, 1stl
Jericho Cruz (AdU) – 33pts, 8rebs, 5 treys, 3asts, 1stl

All images are from

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