ROOKIE Jeron Teng had stepped into the free-throw line four times before, making none.
But with the game on the line, the celebrated rookie made the free throw that mattered most as the La Salle Archers finally broke a three-game losing skid with a 56-52 victory over the Adamson Falcons on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-3 Teng, who made history in high school by making 104 points in one game for Xavier, had been billed as La Salle's savior this season, and for the most part he has been living up to the hype as the Archers moved back to .500 at 3-3 (win-loss) after a run of heartbreaking losses.
It was also Teng who scored the marginal basket at 53-52 with a little more than a minute left in a game of wildly changing fortunes that saw the Archers make shooting free throws look as hard as geometry.
In all, La Salle went 6-of-18 from the line.
“Our field goal shooting was quite good but unfortunately, we missed a lot of free throws. I think it’s a mental thing,” coach Gee Abanilla said.
Teng finished with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and added 10 rebounds as he took over in the absence of starting guard LA Revilla, who suffered a severe sprain in the first half and didn't return.
“LA’s injury threw us off. We were hoping that he could recover right away,” said Abanilla.
Falcons capitalized on Revilla's absence to take a 32-30 lead at the half. But they made only two field goals in the entire third quarter, including none in the first nine minutes of the period, allowing La Salle to regain the upperhand, 43-40, entering the fourth.
“We are happy that we got over the hump,” said Abanilla. “I think our record doesn’t really reflect how we are playing. I'm happy that the focus of our team in this game was defense."
Adamson, with its top player Alex Nuyles out of the season with a dislocated right shoulder, dropped to 1-4.
DLSU (56) --Teng 15, N. Torres 12, Tallo 7, Andrada 6, Mendoza 5, Webb 4, T. Torres 3, Manguera 3, Vosotros 1, Van Opstal 0, Revilla 0.
ADAMSON (52) -- Monteclaro 12, Cabrera 8, Brondial 8, Rios 7, Cruz 7, Camson 5, Julkipli 2, Abrigo 2, Olalia 1, Trollano 0, Petilos 0, Etrone 0, Cabigas 0, Agustin 0.
Quarterscores: 18-13, 30-32, 43-40, 56-52.