Balanza on NCAA 95 Finals: 'Ang Letran, sanay na underdog'

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 12, 2019 09:29 AM
Balanza on NCAA 95 Finals: 'Ang Letran, sanay na underdog'
(Photo by Arvin Lim)

Four years since its Cinderella championship, Colegio de San Juan de Letran is back in the Finals in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament.

And very much like 2015, the Knights have to overcome the odds if they are to upend three-time defending champion and archrival San Beda University.

Still, that predicament is just what the Intramuros-based squad has, time and again, proven to be capable and confident of overcoming. "Ang Letran, sanay na underdog yan. Wala kaming foreign player so talagang puso lang ang labanan - patapangan, pangil sa pangil," team captain Jerrick Balanza said.

He then continued, "Sa tagal ko sa Letran, yun ang natutunan ko - na lumaban ng tama."

When it last hoisted the trophy, an upstart outfit led by Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, and Kevin Racal and guided by Aldin Ayo toppled a Red Lion side fronted by Baser Amer, Art Dela Cruz, and Ola Adeogun.

Now, while Letran has gotten bigger and badder all while being led by Balanza, Larry Muyang, and Fran Yu, San Beda still remains favored as it completed a clean sweep of the elimination round.

For Balanza, however, that doesn't mean anything at all - especially as he, personally, has already jumped over bigger hurdles. As he put it, "Ako, confident ako at positive lang lagi. I-momotivate ko lang yung team kong maging positive."

He then continued, "'Di man kami nanalo sa kanila ng dalawang beses sa eliminations, makakabawi kami sa championship ng dalawang beses kung sakali."

After all, the graduating guard is living proof that mountains can be moved after having overcome a brain injury and then brain surgery to play the game he loves once more. "Lagi ko lang binabalikan lahat ng nangyari sa akin at si God lang ang nilalapitan ko. Nagdadasal ako bago lumabas kasi alam kong ito yung plano niya," he shared.

He then continued, "Kaya niya ako binigyan ng sakit at kaya ako nakabalik para rito sa championship."

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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