Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Jeron Teng’s flu game

Jeron Teng’s flu game
by rick olivares

Jeron Teng had a flu game and a Willis Reed moment all rolled into one.

The Flying V Thunder were on the verge of being blown off the court by Marinerong Pilipino who led 33-15 in the second period. The Thunder’s Aris Dionisio first provided the stand with an and-one and two consecutive blocks – first on John Lopez and then on Julian Sargent. With the momentum shift, Teng entered the game with about five minutes left to play until the halftime break.

The former King La Salle Green Archer was not supposed to play. After returning from France where he was part of the Philippine team that placed 11th in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup, Teng battled jetlag and the flu. He stayed inside his car. Prior to the team briefing before tip-off, Jeron stayed inside his car out in the parking lot. The quiet, away from the crazy atmosphere inside the Ynares Centre in Pasig was more preferable. He could have stayed home but the professional that he is, he suited up. “Am not sure if I am going to play,” he said before the team briefing. “I feel weak.”

With the Thunder on the verge of taking in their first loss in four outings as they were down by 18 and Marinerong Pilipino seemingly scoring at will despite Dionisio’s best efforts, Teng took some medicine, drank some fluids, then began to stretch.

When he entered the match, his old college teammate Sargent was assigned to him. Teng took the ball some 18-feet out and hit a fade away shot.

“That was an important shot. A big one,” later noted Flying V head coach Eric Altamirano. “It forced Marinero to play a little more honest defense and it spread their players.”

Teng didn’t score the rest of the period but Dionisio and team co-captain Eric Salamat took charge as they cut the deficit to six, 40-34, as Salamat ended the half with a buzzer-beating triple. The had made a game of it. What looked to be a loss in the making looked winnable now.

The Thunder though, are a second half team. Salamat underscored that when he uncorked a triple to start the third period. That ignited a 30-point third canto burst against Marinerong Pilipino’s 19. By the end of the third, Flying V had a five-point lead 64-59.

Teng followed his teammates and contributed five third period points. However, with the game on the line, after Marinerong Pilipino’s Pao Javellona gave his team one last taste of the lead at 75-73 time down to 2:12 left, it was Teng’s time.

Just as he has done for La Salle in the past, Teng closed out the match, scoring eight consecutive points (Hans Thiele added one free throw for the match’s last point) in the last two minutes to the three of their opponent.

Flying V – incredulously – won, 83-78.

“I felt that the team needed help,” Teng later reflected of his decision to check himself into the game. “Honestly, that first basket felt good. But I felt tired out there. I didn’t want to show it though.”

“Perhaps if he missed it,” surmised Altamirano later on. “That might have not pumped him up because he didn’t do much again until later in the third and then in the fourth. But that is the kind of player that Jeron is – he is a winner; a game changer.”

Teng finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists in only 23 minutes of play. Not one of his better games stats-wise. But in terms of over-all impact, it will go down as one of his best. Just like that 104-point splurge in the Tiong Lian League when he was back in high school. Or his college swan song with La Salle when in Game One he had that game saving block against Ateneo’s Aaron Black to preserve La Salle’s win. 

“Me,” mused Teng over dinner after the game as he downplayed his Jordanesque effort (referring to Michael Jordan playing with the flu against the Utah jazz during the 1997 NBA Finals). “I’m just glad we got the win. And now, I want to rest.”

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