It’s siesta hour in the stifling month of March, but Jeron Teng is wide awake, staring intently at the television screen in front of him. His lips twitch into a halffrown. Without taking his eyes off the screen, he says: “Game nina Jeric ’to.”
It turns out that he is watching his Kuya Jeric’s live basketball match on TV.
Yes, the Teng brothers are all about the ball game. The last time they appeared in YES! was in December 2013, two months after their sibling rivalry manifested itself in the Season 76 basketball championship of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). Jeron’s team, the Green Archers of De La Salle University (DLSU), battled it out against Jeric’s team, the Growling Tigers of the University of Santo Tomas (UST). DLSU eventually emerged as the champion, and the sibling rivalry was left behind on the hardcourt.
Since then, much has changed—not only in the brothers’ lives, but in their childhood home as well. As the Tengs— dad Alvin, mom Susan, and kids Alyssa, Jeric, Almira, and Jeron—open their newly renovated house to YES!, we get to know more about this family, and how the sons are navigating the highs and lows of professional basketball.
GUNNING FOR THE BIG LEAGUE
Jeron Allen Uy Teng stands 6-foot-2, wears a size 14 shoe, and has broad muscular shoulders that he got from playing basketball for more than 10 years. He stands taller than his sisters Alyssa and Almira, and is the same height as his brother Jeric. But he is actually the bunso of the family.
“Ako ’yong baby ng family bago kami nagkaaso,” he jests, his eyes crinkling as he laughs. The aso is Zoe, the Tengs’ Shih Tzu, who is only three years old.
Jeron may be a serious player on the hardcourt, but he takes himself less seriously in normal conversation. Since
the YES! interview takes place two days before his birthday, we ask him how old he is going to be. Jeron pauses for a few seconds to do the mental math.“Baka magkamali, e. Nakakahiya!” (Actually, he turns 23 two days after the YES! interview.)
But steer the conversation to basketball, and the cager turns earnest, his answers weighty and straight to the point. Before long, he is talking about the UAAP Season 76 basketball championship game back in 2013, when Green Archer Jeron faced off against Growling Tiger Jeric.
“Parang iba ’yong nilaro niya,” Jeron says. “I really had a hard time guarding him. When you put players in that position, parang they really step up their game, e.”
Back then, the younger Teng could only imagine the pressure weighing down on his Kuya Jeric. After all, it was not just a finals match; it was also Jeric’s last game as a collegiate basketball player.
But the La Salle Green Archers didn’t take their eyes off the prize. In the end, they took home the UAAP Season 76 basketball championship title, and Jeron was named Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Jeron knew that his kuya was under immense pressure in that 2013 game. But the younger Teng himself would feel the same pressure three years later during the 2016 UAAP Season 79 championship. Facing off on the hardcourt were fierce rivals DLSU and Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), the Green Archers
and the Blue Eagles, who had last met on the championship court in 2008.
As LaSallians and Ateneans flocked to the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao to support their teams, Jeron suited up for his last match in the UAAP. And he didn’t hold anything back. In that December 2016 game, he scored 28 points for La Salle, leading the team to the UAAP championship trophy. And the icing on the cake was that Jeron took home his second Finals MVP trophy.
“Super overwhelming ’yong feeling, e,” he recalls. “You know, as I look back at my five years, even before I entered La Salle, La Salle has always been my dream school, e… And ’yon, very happy ako, and ’yon nga, I feel blessed to have gotten one more championship before I graduate.”
The win was also made sweeter by his fellow LaSallians’ support throughout the entire tournament season.
“Ang daming nag-congratulate. ’ Yong mga friends ko, schoolmates, and fans, ’pinakita nila kung gaano nila ako sinupport and how happy they are for me. And, you know, sobrang blessed ako sa how people support me.”
Now that the UAAP basketball tournament is over, Jeron has been kept busy by his studies, especially his Business Management thesis. The star athlete is on track to graduate from La Salle this July. But that doesn’t mean that he has put playing his favorite sport on hold. At the recent Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Developmental League (D-League) draft, he was the first pick among more than 80 amateur players. Joining the D-League is a stepping stone into the PBA, the country’s biggest basketball league, which Jeron hopes to get into this year.
In his debut game with the AMA Online Education Titans, one of the teams in the D-League, Jeron showed off his UAAP-honed skills, contributing 42 points to his team’s score. That was the second highest individual score recorded in the D-League, according to CNN Philippines.
Last January, Jeron also got a taste of international basketball when he joined Mighty Sports, which represented the country in the Dubai International Basketball Tournament last January.
Since he started playing for the big leagues (at press time, he’s with the Flying V Thunder, a new team in the D-League), Jeron has come to realize how different professional basketball is from UAAP.
“Sa college, you really feel the school pride, kasi you’re playing for the school, e,” he says. “Professional
playing— parang for me it’s more of, like, work already, e. Work to a certain extent na parang I’ll be getting something from it, pero also, like, work in a positive way.”
He explains further: “Basketball is my passion talaga. It’s what I love to do, so I don’t really feel like I’m working when I’m playing basketball.”
It is at this point in the YES! interview that Jeron opens his flat-screen TV to watch his Kuya Jeric playing in the PBA game between Mahindra and Rain or Shine. The conversation becomes lighter, drifting once again to his upcoming birthday. Will he be wishing for anything on his 23rd birthday?
“Birthday wish ko?” he repeats. “Kasi, parang ngayon, wala akong maisip, e, dahil I’m happy naman with how my life is right now. Ayun. Winning the championship before I graduate, that’s a big thing for me. So thinking about that pa lang, it makes me happy na.”
Then he adds, with a smile: “Happy naman ako sa girlfriend ko.”
By the way, basketball also plays a part in Jeron’s love story. His girlfriend, Jeanine Tsoi, was DLSU’s courtside reporter during Seasons 77 and 78 of the UAAP. Jeron and Jeanine grew closer to each other during the tournaments—and then, in 2016, they started dating.
It seems that there is nothing more that the decorated baller could ask for. But he speaks up again after a few seconds, having decided on his birthday wish: “Hopefully, before ako magpa-draft sa PBA, tapos na ako sa school ko. Para hindi na conflict. I’m not sure if it’s August or September, pero yeah, definitely I’ll be joining the next drafting na.”
For now, Jeron can only hope for the best. But going by his past performance, it won’t be long before the bunso becomes a PBA player, like his Kuya Jeric at present, and like their Daddy Alvin before them.
“This is what I really love to do, playing basketball,” Jeron says. “So, if ever I’ll be in PBA, it’s a dream come true for me.”
WAITING FOR HIS BIG BREAK
“Every time na may chance kang mag-wish, mag-wish ka. Wala namang mawawala.”
That’s Jeric Allen Uy Teng’s outlook on birthday wishes. The second child in the Teng family, who’s also 6-foot-2 but wears size 13 shoes, turned 26 years old on March 18, just a day before the YES! house shoot.
“Siguro naman, hindi nauubos ’yong wish ng tao,” he says. “Of course, you
want a better career. You wish for your health, good health sa family mo, sa business and all that.”
As he enumerates his wishes, his lips curl into a smile. If he is exhausted or disappointed, it doesn’t show on his face.
Just a few hours before his YES! interview, he was still grinding it out on the hardcourt, where his team, the Mahindra Floodbusters, was in an official PBA match against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. That afternoon, his team lost the match.
But once he gets home, he knows how to set all that aside. When the YES! team photographs him in his bedroom, he gives his best smiles to the camera. Much later, he joins everyone for a dinner of pizza and fried chicken, still in a pleasant mood.
Basketball fanatics will know that Rain or Shine was Jeric’s former team, which signed him up in the rookie draft back in 2013. He donned the team’s colors for three years, until his contract ended in November 2016. One month later, he signed up with Mahindra, the team he now plays for. But it was Rain or Shine that first got him into the PBA and let him live his childhood dream.
“I wasn’t expecting to be drafted immediately.” Jeric recalls. “Pero I was, and I still feel blessed na na-draft pa rin ako. Kasi, ever since, pag may mga teachers na nagtatanong ng ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?,’ lahat do’n I used to write: ‘To be a professional basketball player.’ So, sabi ko, siguro na-reach ko na ’yong dream ko.”
After he got drafted as an Elasto Painter, Jeric was raring to show off his skills, which he had built up during his stint with the UST Growling Tigers. “I am hoping to get playing minutes,” he said during the YES! interview back in 2013. “Pero siyempre, I have to work hard for it also. Sa basketball ngayon, ang dami ng Fil-Ams, ang dami ng competitive players from different countries. Dapat talaga magsipag, dahil dami ng kompetisyon.”
Not much has changed, three years after that interview. Though he is now with a different team, Jeric is still hoping for a break—a chance for him to show what he can do on the hardcourt. He has since realized that success, in the PBA, is not the automatic result of hard work.
“What you really need is ’yong breaks,” Jeric says. “Siyempre, it’s up to you na rin if you’re going to—if you can— maximize the opportunities given to you. Pero ’yon nga, kahit ano’ng talent mo or kahit ano’ng hard work mo, but if the
breaks are not there, it’s hard to show what you’re capable of.”
Occasionally, the former UST Growling Tiger finds himself missing his days in the UAAP, when there were plenty of breaks for when he needed them. “Back in college, I used to really be one of the main men sa team. Talagang kahit masama laro ko, the opportunity was still there for me to play better.”
But in professional basketball, the breaks are few and far between. In the span of a few months, Jeric went from the main man of the UST Growling Tigers to a supporting character in Rain or Shine. “In the PBA, I’m still in this level or phase na I still need to show what I am capable of.”
The former UST captain turns retrospective: “At first, with Rain or Shine, I think that hindi pa ako ready at that time. I was still adjusting and all that. I was plagued with many injuries din.”
In his first year in the PBA, Jeric had to sit out a number of games due to patellar tendonitis, an injury also known as jumper’s knee. “Parang there were times na I’m starting to get my rhythm, pero I would get injured, so setback na naman sa akin.”
Considering all the obstacles he has encountered along the way, Jeric feels that he hasn’t achieved success in his professional basketball career, including the few months that he has been playing for the Mahindra Floodbusters. But success, for him, isn’t even about money or fame; it’s about self-fulfillment.
“Parang you really believe that you helped the team to win, ’yong you had a major part in the team winning,” he explains. “I haven’t had that feeling. I can say na parang I haven’t had any success yet sa three and a half years ko in the PBA. Wala akong gano’ng feeling, wala pa talaga.”
But that hasn’t discouraged Jeric from playing the sport that he loves. Instead, he uses his lack of success as his motivation for when the next break comes.
“That’s part of being a pro athlete, e,” he says. “You have to stay ready when that opportunity comes again. You have to perform well.”
Until that opportunity comes, Jeric is just happy to be living his childhood dream. “I’m lucky na I’m playing in the PBA. I’m still playing.”
Now that Jeron, the bunso of the Teng siblings, has claimed the perfect finish to his UAAP career, he is looking forward to what the future holds.
“Now, feeling ko I’m getting, like, not naman older, but I’m getting more responsibilities kasi. I won’t be a student anymore, e, and in a few months I’ll be in the PBA already. I’ll be, like, legit working already, so it makes me feel more mature.”
And though the PBA draft is still a few months away, his Kuya Jeric has already given Jeron some advice about playing the pro league.
“I always give him tips,” Jeric says. “Sabi ko, ‘If you think that ikaw, malalaro mo na okey na dito sa PBA, mali ka, dahil lahat ng ’to, magagaling na. Lahat ng ’to, very professional na… You have to really practice harder. ’ Yong mga weaknesses mo, kailangan mong gawing strengths para makasurvive ka sa game.”
With these words of guidance from his kuya, Jeron is hopeful that he will be picked in the rookie draft. The DLSU student says that it doesn’t even matter which team he ends up playing for: “As long as I go to a team, with playing time siyempre. As a player, gusto ko lang naman maglaro. Suwertihan lang din naman sa basketball talaga, e. Kung sino’ng magda-draft sa ’yo and if you’ll be given playing time, it doesn’t matter to me as long as I play and as long as I’ll be given a chance to show what I can do.”
With two brothers in the same league, could the Tengs’ sibling rivalry make a comeback in the PBA?
Nothing is for sure. But Jeric believes that if he does face off against Jeron in the PBA, it will be nothing like the original 2013 match.
“Of course, it’s different,” Jeric says. “Dahil dati, medyo gamit kami sa team and medyo inaasahan na kami. But this time, like right now, ako, I’m still far from that. So siguro siya, rookie pa lang din siya if ever, so he’s still far from that. So it’s really different.
“Pero who knows? God knows, only God knows what can happen in the future. Basta we’re just gonna work hard and see what happens. Kung anuman ang mangyari, I’m so grateful na andiyan kami.”
The top shelf in the living room holds a valuable art piece—a ceramic tile painting by National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto Cabrera, better known as BenCab. The various knickknacks on the lower shelves also make for interesting conversation starters.
The prayer room reflects the Tengs’ Catholic and Buddhist beliefs. According to Mommy Susan, her family has never felt that there’s a conflict between those two religions. “Tingin ko, wala namang conflict. May Pilipino, may Chinese. Lahat naman ’yan, basta dasalan mo lang, e.”
The door to the walk-in closet is flanked by two shelving units, which hold more than 70 pairs of men’s footwear. The collection is dominated by the sports brand Nike, which Jeron and Jeric endorse.
Jeron, who admits to being a sneakerhead (defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “a sports shoe enthusiast”), says that he and his kuya also purchase shoes whenever they travel abroad. “Minsan, mahirap kaming makakuha ng size namin dito, so minsan, pag nag-a-abroad lang, saka nakakabili ng shoes, or nagpapabili.”
Speaking of shoe size, Jeron wears a size 14, while his Kuya Jeric wears a size 13. The one-inch difference allows the brothers to swap shoes—except for the pairs they wear on the hardcourt. Those have to be wellfitted for optimum performance.
The bedrooms in the Teng home can only be accessed through the use of a number code or a radio-frequency identification (RFID) access card, since they are outfitted with digital locks from the German brand Hafele.
Alyssa (left) and Almira, just like their brothers, grew up sharing the same room—and even the same bed. While the house was still being renovated, the sisters were given the option of having separate rooms. But since they still wanted to stay together, they got twin beds instead.
Alyssa, 29, used to work as a key accounts manager, but resigned to oversee the renovation of the house. Almira, 24, is a social media influencer, that is, one who has established online credibility and can influence readers and followers.
Instead of installing a rack, Alyssa chose to recess a portion of the wall to serve as storage space in the shower. She also picked out a practical sink model for the bathroom.
“’Yong sink namin, same kami ni Jeron,” Alyssa says. “Parang gusto namin ’to, kasi medyo mas uso ngayon ’yong pa-rectangular. Saka pag circle kasi, parang mas mahirap daw linisin sa ilalim.”
The wall on the right side of the master bedroom is taken up by a writing desk and a custom-made bag display unit, which holds more than 30 designer bags owned by Mommy Susan.
Interior designer Kyra Co jests that the bag display was “the number one requirement” for the master’s bedroom— something Mommy Susan doesn’t deny.
“Mahirap kasi,” Mommy Susan says. “’Yong dating ni-rent namin, maliit. So ang daming gagawin bago mo makuha [’ yong bag]. ’Ta’s nakabalot pa… Dito, madaling kunin, e.”
To prove her point, she walks up to the display case and presses on the glass cover. It automatically swings away, giving her easy access to the bag inside.
“O, di ba, kukunin mo na lang? Convenient!”
The door by the entertainment console leads to the walk-in closet and master bathroom. A vanity table graces one side of the walk-in closet, while a built-in shoe rack stands on the other side. The upper half of the shoe rack is reserved for Daddy Alvin, who stands 6-foot-4 and can reach the shelves with minimum effort.
Since there is no television set in the living room downstairs, the entertainment room on the fourth floor is the place where the entire family can watch movies and TV shows together. “We love watching movies,” says Jeric. “Every week, we watch movies together.” The wide L-shaped sofa is also from Furninova.
The guest room on the fourth floor may be smaller than the other rooms in the house, but it has all the necessary furnishings: a daybed (defined by Merriam-Webster as “a couch that can be converted into a bed”), a flat-screen TV, and even a personal bathroom.
“CR ang pinakamarami namin,” Mommy Susan says with a laugh. This bathroom on the fourth floor is just one of seven in the whole house. Aside from this bathroom, there’s a communal half-bath on the first floor, and a personal bathroom in each of the five bedrooms. The Tengs got all their bathroom fixtures from Kuysen.
Alvin Teng (center), who in his heyday was a player for the San Miguel Beermen, didn’t expect that Jeric and Jeron would follow in his footsteps. “Hindi ko in-expect… Ang gusto ko, mag-aral silang mabuti. Siguro, nakikita nila dati na nagba-basketball ako, kaya nag-try sila.”
Having experienced the ups and downs of professional basketball, Daddy Alvin now shares with his sons all the lessons he learned along the way: “Sinasabi ko sa kanila ngayon, ‘Nasa pro na kayo. Kailangan, lagi kang handa any time pag ginamit ka. Hanapbuhay mo ’yan, e, trabaho mo ’yan. Magpapakilala ka na talaga, kasi hindi habang-buhay nandiyan ka sa basketball.”