Sibling rivalry ignites UST-La Salle finals
MANILA, Philippines – The De La Salle Green Archers and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers will battle for all the marbles in the UAAP Season 76 Finals, but the much-hyped showdown between brothers Jeron and Jeric is threatening to steal the spotlight.
Jeric, in his final year with UST, is hoping to bring the Tigers back to the Promised Land and finish his collegiate career on a high. But his brother Jeron is also raring to claim a title after helping lead La Salle back to the finals for the first time since Season 71.
“In his previous games against NU (National University), I was there to support him,” said Jeron of his brother in an interview with Anthony Taberna on "Umagang Kay Ganda" on Monday. “But ngayon, magkalaban na kami.”
“We both want this championship,” Jeron added. “So pagdating ng game, we won’t treat each other as brothers. Laban na talaga.”
Jeron and the Green Archers were the first to clinch a Finals berth, after beating Far Eastern University. He was at the Mall of Asia Arena last Saturday to show his support for Jeric as the Tigers battled NU for the other Finals slot.
“Sabi (ni Jeron), hihintayin niya ako noong nanalo siya,” Jeric told reporters after UST’s victory. “Hihintayin niya ako. Thankfully nga, kami ‘yung pumasok.”
Their parents, Alvin and Susan, are a fixture at UST and La Salle games but have vowed to wear neutral colors during the best-of-three series.
“Masayang-masaya kami,” said Alvin. “Lalo na para kay Jeric, dahil last year na ni Jeric ngayon sa UAAP. Proud na proud ako sa mga anak ko na at least, nasa Finals sila.”
“Yung feeling ko, panalo na ‘yung dalawa,” he added. “Sa isip ko talaga, at least ‘yung dalawa nakapasok sa Finals, so parang nag-champion na rin ako.”
Jeron and Jeric acknowledged that they will likely defend each other at some points, although Jeric said it will be UST swingman Kevin Ferrer who will start off against his brother.
“Si Kevin muna ang magbabantay doon,” he said.
“Ine-expect ko nga si Kevin Ferrer,” Jeron said. “Knowing Kevin naman, sobrang pang-asar talaga, so ‘iyon lang ang ine-expect ko sa laro.”
“Pero siyempre, kami ng brother ko, hindi maiiwasan na magbantayan talaga kami,” he added.
La Salle and UST split their two elimination round meetings this season, with the Tigers beating the Archers in overtime in the first round. But La Salle got their revenge in the second round of the tournament.
Jeric has noted that for the past two seasons, nearly all UST-La Salle games have been close encounters.
“Siguro medyo even ‘yung match-up namin,” he said. “Medyo malaki sila, kami medyo mabilisan. So I think magandang match-up ito.”
But Jeric also has a message for his younger brother, a couple of days before they enter the court as opponents.
“Panganay muna,” he said. “Panganay muna, kasi last year ko na.”