Letranís coach Jeff: 'Ngayon pa lang, we're ready sa NCAA 95'

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 31, 2018 05:45 PM
Coach Jeff: 'Ngayon pa lang, we're ready sa NCAA 95'
Bong Quinto has passed the reins of leadership for Letran to Bonbon Batiller, Larry Muyang, and Jerrick Balanza

Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s strong season ended with a whimper at the hands of rampaging Lyceum of the Philippines University last Friday.

All throughout the NCAA 94 Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Knights proved that they are a playoff team – and even more, a title contender.

While that didn’t necessarily show in their loss to the Pirates, they nonetheless remain upbeat that they could do all of that all over again next year.

In fact, even now, Letran is already talking like a favorite. “Ngayon pa lang, we’re ready sa Season 95,” head coach Jeff Napa said right after their elimination in the ongoing season.

With triple-double threat Bong Quinto and steady leader JP Calvo already graduating, it will be a tall task for coach Jeff to back up his claim.

Still, he has nothing but full faith on those who will be returning. “Next year, definitely, Jerrick will be 100 percent. I think, January (next year), good to go na siya,” the mentor said, talking about starting off-guard Jerrick Balanza who was forced to undergo brain surgery just two months ago.

He then continued, “Nandyan pa naman si Bonbon, si Larry, si Christian, si Jeo so pretty confident talaga ako dun sa maiiwan.”

Indeed, Quinto and Calvo were the shining stars, but the likes of Jeo Ambohot, Bonbon Batiller, Christian Fajarito, Koy Galvelo, and Larry Muyang turned the Knights into a force to reckon with.

For his part, recovering Balanza gave off the same sort of confidence. “Buo pa rin kaming makakapasok sa Final Four next year. Masasabi ko ngayon pa lang na ramdam na namin kung gaano kahirap sa Final Four so alam na namin kung paano namin tatagusin ito next year,” he said.

He then continued, “Expect ninto na magfa-Finals ang Letran next year.”

And in the same light, coach Jeff and Balanza have nothing but full faith on those who will be coming in. As the former put it, “Next year is a different story. A lot of guys are coming in from our Team B so actually, pinagpreparahan na rin namin yung pagkawala ni (Bong, JP, Alex Mandreza, at Jeremiah Taladua),” he said.

He then continued, “Team B namin, binugbog na namin sa Team A para at least, ma-experience na nila kung ano yung level of competitiveness. It’s a matter of kailangan lang namin i-polish at saka i-jell together yung mga naiwan.”

Who are those players on the Knights’ Team B? Former University of Sto. Tomas swingman Jordan Sta. Ana, former Nazareth School of National University versatile forward Allen Mina, and former Squire stud guard Kiefer Cordero, just to name a few.

Without a doubt, Letran is adamant that it will still be stacked for next season.

As for the rest of the NCAA, though? “At the same time, yung mga kalaban namin, marami rin naman silang mawawala. Problema na nila yun kung paano kami haharapin next year na mas malakas,” coach Jeff said, alluding to the departures of CJ Perez from LPU, Robert Bolick from San Beda University, and Prince Eze from University of Perpetual Help.

He then continued, “Mas malakas, tapos mas sugatan ngayon kaya babawi kami next year.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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