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Sports

Teng joins PBA veterans in Flying V

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Filoil Flying V Thunder coach Eric Altamirano said yesterday his goal is to assemble a competitive team for the coming PBA D-League Foundation Cup and with prized recruit Jeron Teng in the saddle for only a conference before applying for the pro draft, the former La Salle star will be surrounded by veterans to maximize his impact.

“It’s hard to say if we’ll be a championship contender outright,” said Altamirano. “We want to be competitive for sure. We know that Jeron will be with us only for a conference so we’re hoping to make an immediate impact. So far, we’ve had about seven practices. After the Holy Week break, we resumed practice last Monday. Our practices are at night since Jeron is still finishing his studies at La Salle.”

Altamirano, a champion coach in the PBA and UAAP, has signed up seven players with five to six more slots available. Aside from Teng, the other recruits are 5-6 Mike Gamboa of UP, 5-10 Eric Salamat of Ateneo, 6-3 Gab Banal of Mapua, 6-2 Joshua Webb of La Salle, 5-10 Luis Sinco of St. Benilde, 6-4 Jovet Mendoza of La Salle and 6-5 J. R. Ongteco of St. Benilde.  Salamat, Banal and Webb are PBA veterans so their experience will go a long way in supporting Teng.

Altamirano said he’s in talks with several other players from La Salle, Letran, NU and Ateneo to join the Thunder. In his wish list are three more PBA veterans. Altamirano declined to name the players he’s after as they’re in the process of disengaging from their current teams. Fil-Aussie Krenz Carlos is reportedly trying out for Flying V. In Altamirano’s staff are assistants Joey Guanio and Vic Ycasiano, strength and conditioning coach Paolo Rivero and video coordinator/statistician Paolo Sauler. Former La Salle Greenhills basketball coach Hubert de los Santos will also join the staff.

Altamirano said the offer to coach Flying V came as a welcome surprise. “(Team manager) Joey (Guillermo) mentioned the possibility late last year then we spoke again in January before finalizing things with (team owner) Raffy (Villavicencio),” he said. “Raffy and I have known each other from way back. We share the same vision of grassroots development and working with the youth. Flying V has supported the NBTC for years so there is synergy with the group.”

After resigning from NU last season, Altamirano said his plan was to focus on the NBTC, the Coach E camp and his sports management on-line course with a specialty institute in Barcelona. “My course has to do with eventually opening a Basketball Academy,” he said. “When the opportunity came to coach Flying V and work with Raffy, it was a blessing.”

Altamirano said coaching in the PBA D-League will mean a transition. “I coached in the D-League  two years ago for BDO but it was our school team NU that played,” he said. “This will be a change from the UAAP. I’ll be coaching older, more experienced players and it will require a different approach. I’m excited to face the challenge.”

Altamirano said under the PBA D-League rules, an import may play only with a school-based team as a student athlete. “We’re not eligible to recruit an import,” he said. “When the Filoil Flying V pre-season tournament opens, we’ll participate as a guest team to play exhibition games so it will give us more experience playing together.”

Teng, 23, played for AMA in the previous PBA D-League Aspirants Cup. He played on two UAAP title squads in five years with La Salle and in his PBA D-League debut, erupted for 42 points.  Teng averaged 23.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists in the Aspirants Cup, delivering a strong message that he’s ready for the PBA.

ERIC ALTAMIRANO

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