TENG BROTHERS

YES! (Philippines) - - In This Issue - TEXT BY SHARA CAYETANO IN­TER­VIEWS BY SHARA CAYETANO & ANNA PINGOL PHO­TOS BY RENE ME­JIA

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.”

SIB­LING RI­VALRY?

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.”

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...

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...

“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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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.

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,...

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...

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...

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