De La Salle Green Archers Jeron Teng and Arnold van Opstal are intent on a back-to-back win for their university in the men’s basketball division of the 77th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
As champs, they are not resting on their laurels.
For the past many months, Jeron and Arnold have been doubling their efforts in basketball practices to increase their chances of defending the title that they deservingly won in 2013.
“Hopefully, syempre, we’re wishing for another championship this year pero we know as a team medyo mahirap ‘yon,” Jeron explained to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other members of the press at a pocket press con last July 10, Thursday.
“For now, we just wanna do our best lang talaga, in every game,” he continued.
PRESSURE. Being the team captain, Jeron bears the bulk of the pressure but he said his confidence in his players remains undiminished.
According to him, “Kami naman sa team nagtutulungan kami, so it’s really a collective effort, from the coaches to the players.
"Medyo nale-lessen ang pressure for me.”
Arnold, on the other hand, said that their intense practice has boosted his confidence and eased the the pressure somewhat.
“To be honest, I don’t feel any pressure right now, as I’m very confident in my team.
“I don’t think that we are the ones who should feel pressure, we’ve been training hard and hopefully our hard work pays off,” he attested.
In their own right, Jeron and Arnold are considered celebrities, hardcourt heartthrobs whose appearances in television programs only affirm their increasing popularity.
But being popular has the added pressure of meeting their fans’ expectations, does it bother them?
“Hindi naman kasi we got used to it already,” answered Jeron.
“As basketball players, you have to expect the pressure, people expect you to play your best.
"You have to keep up with the expectations and you always have to give your best in every game.
“Sa game, focused ka lang and all you think is winning lang.”
For Arnold, popular or not, he is his worst critic.
“I still got a lot to improve. I’m not satisfied with anything I’m doing right now,” he explained his single-mindedness to become better and better as a cager.
IDOL JAMES YAP. For UAAP basketball players, the ultimate goal is to make it to the Philippine Basketball Association or PBA, and Jeron and Arnold are no different from any college player who wish to turn pro.
The two admit they look to San Mig Coffee Mixers James Yap for inspiration.
James had just led his team to their recent victory in the PBA Governor’s Cup held July 9, Wednesday. He has also been named the Most Valuable Player.
Jeron who also holds his older brother Jeric, a Rain or Shine player, in high regard said about James, “Obviously, angat naman ang laro niya talaga sa PBA, hanggang championship.
"Ang galing talaga niya, if he really wants to play, if he really wants to score, he can score.
“So siya yung one of the best players of PBA right now.”
He continued that he gets to practice with James and said each session with the PBA player increases his admiration for the pro.
“Lagi naming nakakasama si James. He’s really a humble guy talaga, despite all his achievements, lahat ng narating niya, he’s still down-to-earth.
“Focused na focused talaga. Makikita sa mukha niya. When the game comes, he really wants to carry his team.
“Sana maging katulad ko si James Yap,” Jeron admitted.
For his part, Arnold said, “I look up to James Yap, he’s really a clutch.”
The word clutch means someone who can work under pressure.
Another PBA player whom Arnold admires is Greg Slaughter of Barangay Ginebra, “His improvement is really great, compared to when I played with him. I really respect his game and how hard he’s worked.”
ON SHOWBIZ COMMITMENTS. And while they do a little bit of showbiz here and there, the two players have made it clear that basketball remains as their priority.
And with the opening of the UAAP just recently, Jeron and Arnold explained that they will have to slow down on their showbiz commitments.
“I’m really focused on UAAP and I have commitments with my school,” Jeron said.
“Syempre medyo male-lessen yung time ko sa ekstra ekstra. Focus muna ako sa UAAP at mga practices.
“Uunahin ko yung basketball ko, ang priority ko, pero pag may extra time, why not? Sayang din.”
A couple of months ago, Jeron said that he will have a special participation in an upcoming movie and while he has not yet turned down that project, he said that his camp is trying to fix his schedule so he can accommodate it.
He related, “Siguro right now I’m still trying to fit in the school kasi medyo mahirap nga.
"Kasi nga medyo matagal yung hours ng shooting, so medyo we’re still trying to fix my schedule.
“Hopefully sana matuloy. Sana mapasok pa rin. Medyo limited kasi yung time sa school at basketball.”
Meanwhile, Arnold admitted he quite enjoyed his showbiz gigs, such as apperances in Gandang Gabi Vice, ASAP, Minute To Win It all on ABS-CBN and Unang Hirit on GMA-7.
He said, “I just appreciate everything given to me. Showbiz is a stepping point as well into my career, and I guess something bigger.
"It’s great. I enjoy everything. I just take what’s given to me. I’m lucky enough to be able to do some minor things in showbiz.”