Balanza's 31 points showed he has fully recovered from brain surgery

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 12, 2019 05:37 PM
NCAA: Balanza showed he has recovered from brain surgery
Jerrick Balanza dropped a career-best 31 points in just his second game back in the NCAA following a bout with a brain tumor

On September 6, 2018, Jerrick Balanza was ruled out for Colegio de San Juan de Letran's matchup opposite Arellano University inside Filoil Flying V Centre.

That was the first of the 10 games he missed due to a brain tumor in the 94th Season of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

"Dine-dedicate namin itong panalo para kay Jerrick. Given na naman yun," then-head coach Jeff Napa said after the Knights charged through the Chiefs, 99-82.

On July 7, 2019, Balanza took the floor once more inside Filoil Flying V Centre, back at full strength just 10 months after brain surgery.

As circumstances would have it, Letran was up against Arellano now in Season 95.

And in the end, the blue and white scored the win, with Balanza showing the way with an NCAA career-best 31 points.

He delivered 13 of his output in the final frame, leading his side to a 19-6 charge that turned a two-point deficit into a 79-67 advantage they would protect until the final buzzer.

Of course, when push came to shove, it was the graduating guard who would put the Knights on his back.

After all, there was nothing that would be keeping him from moving forward - not even a brain tumor and the succeeding brain surgery. "Yun talaga nagiging motivation ko. Sinasabi na pressure kasi bagong-balik ako, pero sinasabi ko, 'Pressure? Baka nga naubos na pressure sa katawan ko dahil sa mga pinagdadaanan ko,'" he shared.

He then continued, "Yun na lang ang tinitignan ko kaya every game, nag-eenjoy na lang ako."

Indeed, Balanza would always have some place to draw strength from as he has taken one of the biggest blows life could offer. "Thankful talaga ako kay God na kahit binigyan niya ako nang ganung pagsubok, 'di niya ako hinayaan. Nilabanan ko talaga," he said.

He then continued, "Kaya kung malamanan kami ng alanganing oras? Okay lang, enjoy lang. Good things naman ang mangyayari parati."

That is exactly why, in his mind, the 22-year-old swingman has no problems whatsoever continuing his individual recovery while also taking the reins of leadership for Letran. "Ginusto ko 'to, parte na 'to ng buhay ko so nag-eenjoy ako," he said.

He then continued, "Blessed ako na naging leader ako ng Letran kasi ang tagal-tagal ko na sa Letran, talagang mahal na mahal ko ang Letran. Lahat yun, sinusuklian ko lang."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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