NCAA: Knights, Squires win the day for ailing birthday boy Balanza

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 06, 2018 08:04 PM
NCAA: Knights, Squires win the day for ailing Balanza
The entire Letran community is right behind Jerrick Balanza as he battles a brain tumor

As always, Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s got the back of Jerrick Balanza.

“Right now, naka-admit na siya e, pero nag-request siya na i-dedicate sa kanya ‘to kasi birthday niya,” head coach Jeff Napa told reporters after the Knights dropped Arellano University for a third win in a row on Thursday.

Just two days ago, Balanza was diagnosed with a tumor in the temporal lobe of his brain and will have to undergo surgery on Friday. With that, he is not out for the season.

Before his operation, the fourth-year swingman celebrated his 22nd birthday.

And so, those left playing for Letran gifted him with a big-time win.

Even though he will no longer see action, coach Jeff said that Balanza will always be part of the team. “’Di naman mawawala si Jerrick sa team. He’s still part of the team kaya yung presence niya sa dugout sa ensayo, andun pa rin yan,” the former said.

And with that, the Knights will always be behind their ailing teammate. “Kami ni coach Jeff, ‘di naman kami nagkukulang sa pag-encourage sa kanya. Sabi ko nga sa kanya, kahit anong mangyari, wag niya isipin ang team namin,” team captain Bong Quinto shared.

He then continued, “Ang isipin niya, sarili niya. Kung kailangan niya kami, nandito kami para sa kanya.”

Along with the all-out support from Letran, Quinto said they are nothing but thankful for all the love from the rest of the NCAA and the basketball community at large. As he put it, “Good thing naman, buong NCAA, kahit mga kalaban namin, nagkakaisa para makatulong kay Jerrick.”

In the end, Balanza will be the rallying point as the Knights try to return to the Final Four for the first time since their champion season in 2015. “At least, dagdag motivation din sa amin para magtrabaho lalo,” coach Jeff remarked.

It isn’t just the Knights who are being motivated by Balanza either.

Earlier in the day, Letran High School dropped an upset ax on Arellano HS.

With the win, the Squires fanned the flames of their playoff hopes.

More importantly, however, they also dedicated their biggest win of the season to Letran-lifer Balanza. “Yung isa sa (inspiration) namin, yung nangyari kay Jerrick. Talagang pinu-push ng mga bata na lumaban para sa Letran at para kay Jerrick,” head coach Raymond Valenzona said.

Balanza was a start for the Squires before moving up to Intramuros’ Seniors squad.


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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