Captain Balanza says Letran going all-in for NCAA 95 title

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 04, 2019 04:59 PM
Captain Balanza says Letran going all-in for NCAA 95 title
(Photo by Josh Albelda)

Colegio de San Juan de Letran is far from satisfied with a return trip to the semifinals in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament.

"Parati ko silang china-challenge na wag masiyahan," team captain Jerrick Balanza shared. "Kung masaya kayo dyan, kaming (seniors), hindi pa kasi pumunta tayo rito hindi lang para makapasok ng Final Four, but to play for the championship."

The Knights haven't been to the Finals since their Cinderella championship back in 2015.

And also since then, they have only made the playoffs twice - this year and last.

That is exactly why the second winningest program in the Grand Old League is as hungry as ever to taste the title once more. "Again, kung sino man kalaban namin, we'll give 200 percent para ma-reach namin yung objective namin," Balanza said.

He then continued, "At ang objective namin ay ma-beat namin yung (semifinals finish) last year. Kailangan malampasan namin yun."

Along with bringing back the championship to Intramuros, the graduating guard has a more personal fuel to his fire - make the most of his last opportunity to play in the semifinals.

That is even truer after Balanza was forced to sit out last year's playoffs due to a brain injury. As he put it, talking about third-seed Letran's elimination loss to second-seed Lyceum of the Philippines University, "Last year, wala ako, 'di ako nakatulong. Pwede kong sabihing siguro, kung nandun ako, baka ibang storya e."

He then continued, "Kaya ngayon, habang nandito ako, gagawin ko kung anong dapat gagawin. Hindi yung pagkatapos saka ako magsisisi."

And so, whatever happens from here, the 23-year-old is just thankful for everything he has won and everything else he is still fighting for. "Sa akin, sobrang pasasalamat talaga. Wala akong ginagawa rito sa buhay ko kundi pasasalamat," he said.

He then continued, "Paggising ko pa lang, nagpapasalamat na akong meron akong ganitong buhay na tinatamasa."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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