“Up close and personal with the King Archer”
Sun.Star Davao, March 19, 2016
I read this hashtag on the Instagram post of Jeron Teng the day our alumni association was scheduled to host dinner for him and the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers Basketball Team in Davao.
Jeron’s love for durian was even further validated when I received a text message from Gerry Achacoso, a DLSU alumnus involved in the school’s sports program, “Ma’am, Jeron has a special request for tonight. Durian lover pala siya. Perhaps, that’s the Dabawenyo in him”.
For the unfamiliar with the country’s collegiate basketball scene, Jeron Alvin Teng, the small forward for the De La Salle Green Archers, is the youngest son of Davao native and Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) sensation Alvin Teng (nicknamed Robocop) who once played for San Miguel, Pepsi, Sunkist, Alaska, among others.
Alvin and his wife are blessed with four children, namely: Alyssa, Almira, Jeric (a former University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tigers basketball player now with Rain or Shine Elasto Painters) and the youngest, Jeron, DLSU’s King Archer.
In 2013, the Teng brothers made headlines when their respective teams closely played against each other during the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 76 Men’s Basketball Championship Games. Jeron impressively led the Green Archers in winning in the finals and was awarded as the Most Valuable Player.
Recently, the soon-to-be 22-year old Jeron added another feather to his cap by being voted as the Favorite Asian Sports Star at the prestigious Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards 2016, beating Malaysian diver Pandelela Rinong, Indonesian footballer Kim Kurniawan, and Singaporean footballer Irfan Fandi.
What makes Jeron so endearing to his legion of fans? My one-on-one interview with him gave me a glimpse of why he is such a darling. Well-mannered, charming and unaffected by fame, he would ask personal questions about my family and I after the interview. He even obliged the alumni and their kids to countless photo ops and video greetings, without showing any hesitation even after a tiring afternoon of playing at the Araw ng Davao Basketball Tournament at the Almendras Gym.
With 390,000 Instagram followers and still counting, it is no wonder that the sharpshooting King Archer has bulls-eyed the hearts of many!
How does it feel to win as the Favorite Asian Sports Star at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards 2016?
Well, it was really a big honor. It’s an international award. In the Philippines, I was the only Filipino who was nominated under the Favorite Asian Sports Star category. I feel blessed to have won the award. I’m really thankful to those people who voted for me. And, knowing the other nominees, I feel so honored because they were big stars and professional players from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
*Were you always interested in basketball as a kid? How did your father influence you in the sport?
Well, I started joining the varsity team when I was in Grade 3 at Xavier School. Growing up, I would watch my dad’s games. That really influenced me to really pursue basketball. At the start, it was just a hobby for me. While at it and the longer I played, I felt it was becoming a part of me.
*You started playing basketball at Xavier School and now DLSU, what is a typical day for a student-athlete like you?
With our new coach right now, we practice in the morning. We wake up at around 5:00 a.m. because we would practice from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. And, after, we still have to go to class in the afternoon. Then after the afternoon classes, it’s our time to rest and do additional school stuff. We sleep early at around 9:30 p.m. or before 10:00 p.m. Because, the next day, we have another practice.
*How do you manage your time in school, basketball and social life?
I just have to know my priorities. With the tight schedule of a student-athlete, the time for me to go out with my friends is restricted. I still see them though but I know my priorities. I know I have to do well in school for me to get to play at the UAAP. Basketball really requires many sacrifices.
*How did basketball shape you and your values?
When playing a sport, you really need to have discipline. Discipline with your sleep and the food you eat. Perseverance and practice as well as playing well with others. You really learn a lot from basketball.
*You mentioned in a video interview that you hoped that the Nickelodeon award will inspire other kids to be a student-athlete like you. What programs do you support for kids?
From time to time, I meet up with kids, sometimes with less fortunate kids. Actually, that’s my plan, it’s almost my birthday on March 21 and I’m planning to celebrate it with my brother Jeric with some kids. Probably, we will play basketball and bond with them.
*Your father has roots in Davao. Do you still have relatives here? Do you still get in touch with them?
I have a lot of relatives here. Most of my dad’s side are from Davao. I rarely see them though because it’s usually my dad who comes here. I still get in touch with them whenever they are in Manila. They would visit our house.
*Growing up in the Teng household, did you have any Davao influence at home?
My dad was born in Davao and he speaks Bisaya but my mom is from Gumaca, Quezon so she speaks Tagalog. When it comes to food, I grew up eating durian. My dad lets me eat it. Even until now, my favorite fruit is durian. I also eat kinilaw. I got a lot of influences from my dad which I didn’t realize were Dabawenyo.
*How was it like playing against your brother Jeric and his team during the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 76 Men’s Basketball Finals? And, how did you feel when you won against UST/Jeric?
My brother Jeric and I are very close. We share one room. When we were young, it was our dream to play against each other in the finals for the UAAP. When DLSU won the championship, I didn’t know if I would celebrate or mourn for my brother. I know it was my brother’s last year playing for the UAAP, and I kind of felt bad for him. I actually cried in front of him when I tried to console him. I had mixed emotions. We are both competitive. It was really awkward. But, at the end of the day, we are still brothers.
*What is your impression of Davao and the people?
I’ve been to Davao a lot of times as a kid. When my grandparents were still alive, we would often visit them. My impression is that the people of Davao are very nice and welcoming. I think it’s the safest city in the whole Philippines!
*I heard that this is your final year to play for the Green Archers, what are your plans after playing for the UAAP?
I’m almost graduating and I hope after my playing years with La Salle, I can reach the PBA. Siyempre, it’s my dream also to play as a pro.
*Aside from being successful in basketball, what are your other dreams/goals in life?
I know basketball won’t be there forever so I’m taking up business management. In the future, I hope to come up with my own business.
*Being a role model for the youth is such a huge responsibility. What do you do to live up to this important role?
I have to be extra careful, especially with my social media accounts. I know that some of the kids might be able to read my posts. I try to be responsible. But, I just do what I do because I love what I’m doing. I just want to share my passion for basketball with others.
*What or who keeps you grounded?
Ever since, my parents have taught me to stay grounded. Because if you become too proud, God can take the blessings away from you. My parents remind us to be happy with all the blessings we have been receiving.
*Any message for Davao fans?
I want to thank our Davao fans for giving the La Salle team a warm welcome. I’m just happy every time I come here. People are so nice. Maraming durian. That’s my favorite. And, we are really excited to hit the beach after our games!
Some photos are courtesy of Jeron’s Instagram account and Nickelodeon.
E-mail the author at email@example.com. Visit www.momabouttowndavao.blogpsot.com.