UST coach Pido Jarencio will not push Jeric Teng to play through the pain, but he is hoping someone would soon fill the void for the Tigers.
Jarencio said the Tigers lost more than just a proven scorer when Teng left the match against the National University Bulldogs on Saturday.
The Tigers, he said, lost a leader on the floor.
“Ang tunay na storya diyan, nawala si Jeric, nawala kami,” Jarencio admitted when he emerged from the dugout following their 61-75 loss to the in-form Bulldogs at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“May leadership 'yung bata. Leadership ang nawala,” added Jarencio.
Teng had been sidelined with a right shoulder injury since last month but returned on Saturday. His comeback, though, was short-lived as he hurt his right hamstring in the first half in the NU match.
He never returned after scoring two points and 10 minutes, although he was able to rejoin his teammates on the bench for the rest of the match.
Without Teng, the Tigers struggled to keep up with the Bulldogs after trailing by only three points at the half as Robin Rono did the damage by scoring key triples for a 14-point victory.
Jarencio said his other players simply couldn’t give what Teng could deliver.
“Hindi madala ng ibang mga players. Maski anong turo ko, kahit anong gawin ko sa practice, pagdating dito (sa laro), nag-iiba. Ewan ko ba kung bakit ganoon,” said Jarencio.
“Maganda ang first half namin dahil kay Jeric, tapos nung second half, nag-iba, nawala. Hindi ko alam,” said an exasperated Jarencio.
But the outspoken UST coach said they are not in a hurry to bring back Teng, who later admitted that he might have overworked himself in his eagerness to return to action.
“Hindi niya kailangang pilitin. Ang importante, maging healthy siya. Dadating din 'yun,” Jarencio said.
The Tigers, however, are still within a shot at a Final Four despite having a record below .500 (4-5) as teams are still bunched up in the middle pack.
“Makakuha lang ng isa o dalawang panalo,” Jarencio said. “Dikit dikit naman 'yan.”