DAVAO – The loudest cheers from the crowd at the University of Southeastern Philippines gym during the PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup opener between Rain or Shine and Alaska was reserved for the Elasto Painters guard with prominent Chinese blood.
And no, he’s not poster boy Chris Tiu.
Rookie Jeric Teng was given a warm reception on this special Sunday night by local fans in the home province of his father Alvin, who was around to see his oldest son make his pro debut in the company of his wife Susan and Jeric's younger brother Jeron of De La Salle.
“Very happy ako dahil `yung first game nangyari pa dito sa Davao,” said the popular freshman as he addressed the audience just before the game.
In a homecoming of sorts, the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft didn’t disappoint as he scored five points in his pro debut to help the Painters hack out an 87-74 win over the Aces.
“Coming to this game, I was very confident kasi `yung kumpiyansa na binibigay ng coaches at `yung teammates ko grabe talaga,” the 22-year-old Teng said in a chat with Spin.ph.
Teng, a natural shooting guard in his collegiate career with University of Santo Tomas, also did a remarkable job acting as back-up point guard at times in the absence veteran TY Tang, who missed the opener due to food poisoning.
Tiu was also out as he was nursing a hamstring injury, while prized rookie Raymond Almazan was put on the inactive list by coach Yeng Guiao a day after ending his collegiate career with Letran.
“Actually kahit sa tune-up games ginagawa ni coach Yeng akong point guard,” Teng bared. “Personally, medyo naninibago pa ako pero sa practice naman pina-practice ko `yung pagiging point guard, like `yung dribbling skills ko para masanay.”
“Alam ko naman na typical ako maging point minsan dahil din sa height ko,” admitted Teng, who officially stands 6 feet and 5/8. “So 'pag kailangan ako ni coach mag-point, I’ll be ready.”
Teng, who came over to Davao for the first time in more than a decade, was quick to play down his popularity.
“Hindi naman (ganun kalakas yung reception). Ako, I’m just happy na maraming sumusuporta sa akin. Nagpapasalamat ako na `yung mga sumusporta sa akin sa UAAP, hanggang sa PBA sumusuporta pa rin. I’m very happy rin sa mga Davaoeño na na-appreciate nila `yung (heritage ko).”