YOU would think a phenom like Jeron Teng who had scored 104 points in a high school game would already be immune to rookie jitters by the time he makes his UAAP debut.
Well, he's not.
The celebrated freshman admitted he had to overcome a bad case of nerves when he made his long-awaited debut for La Salle in a game against University of the Philippines on Sunday night.
Teng, 19, had an impressive stint in the preseason Filoil Cup with the Archers but had a rocky start to his UAAP career, scoring just two points to go with five rebounds in 11 minutes in the first half against the Maroons.
“Iba talaga ‘yung Filoil (Cup) sa UAAP,” said the 6-3 forward, who etched his name in the record books with his 104-point game for Xavier School last season. “I had a bad start in the first quarter. I was still adjusting in the first half, mabuti na lang nakabawi ako noong second half.”
La Salle coach Gee Abanilla admitted that rookies, regardless of their caliber, are inevitably overwhelmed by the big crowds and bright lights of the country's premier college league.
“A lot of my rookies were affected by the lights, TV and the crowd. We have to work on that,” Abanilla said.
Teng scored 13 points in the second half to finish with 15 but looked far from steady late in the end game, missing three free throws that nearly cost the Archers the game.
“Iniisip ko na masu-shoot ‘yun kasi four-of-four ako bago ‘yung free throws na ‘yun. Hindi naman ako kabado,” said Teng.
Fortunately for the green-clad faithful, Teng atoned for the misses with a three-point play in the end that sealed the win for the Archers.
Despite the patchy debut, Abanilla is not worried. He has no doubt Teng's pedigree will show in their next games.
“There were a lot of rookie jitters but we know what he (Teng) can do, we’ve seen it in practice,” Abanilla said.