JERON Teng and Arnold Van Opstal admitted the loss to Far Eastern University on opening day of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament was an early reality check for defending champion La Salle.
The heavy favorites to repeat this season owing to a strong and an almost intact lineup, the Green Archers fell at the first hurdle as they were left stunned by a determined Tamaraws side, 77-82.
La Salle coach Juno Sauler had warned prior to the season that the favorite's tag mustn't get in his players’ head - words that proved prophetic as the Archers were humbled right on opening day.
Teng now said the first step in their recovery is to get all of those thoughts out of their heads.
"We have to set our mindset that we are not that strong and work hard,” Teng told a handful of reporters before politely excusing himself as he left the Big Dome on Sunday night.
Teng scored 14 points against the Tamaraws but was only 4-of-15 from the field in the loss, which came a week before the Archers face arch-rival Ateneo Blue Eagles at the Big Dome.
Van Opstal admitted he felt the team became complacement after taking a 23-10 lead in the first quarter.
“It sometimes happens for some reason that we have the lead in the first and, in the second half, we just expect to take over and win it,” said Van Opstal, who finished with seven points and nine rebounds.
“It won’t happen again,” Van Opstal assured.
La Salle’s top big man later gave credit to FEU. “I think they (Tams) came out with a lot of fire and we got complacent. We just needed our shooters to connect on those shots,” said Van Opstal.