JAMES Canlas admitted that it was weird not to have Evan Nelle by his side when San Beda took the court in the 2019 Philippine Collegiate Champions League.
But with the Bandana Bros no more, the Fil-Canadian guard knows that he has no other recourse but to fight on and move forward.
"Honestly, it's different, but we just have to play through it," he said on Saturday. "He's just one guy but he will always be my teammate. He just messaged me earlier, but you just have to do it."
Canlas found himself alone in the backcourt after Nelle decided to transfer to La Salle in the offseason.
That news even came as a shock for the 6-foot-2 scorer, but he only wishes nothing but the best for his close friend as they go on their separate ways.
"I was surprised, but at the end of the day, it's his decision," he said. "I got love for him and I respect his decision. He knows that I know that if we were playing together, it would be a different story. So good luck to him at La Salle."
Now, though, Canlas will have a bigger responsibility as one of the Red Lions' leaders, together with NCAA MVP Calvin Oftana.
"It's basically me and Calvin now. It's going to be a big step for me. I have to be a leader now and I have to take charge," he said.
Unlike in the past two seasons, Canlas is also expected to play more of a facilitator as he shifts from a shooting guard to a point guard.
In his first game at the point, he finished with 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists in an 83-69 defeat to Ateneo in the UAAP/NCAA Challenge.
"Honestly, it's not as bad as I thought. I have the ball more of the time now but I'm usually a two and a three. So yeah, it's pretty tough," said Canlas as he slowly settles in his new role.
"We'll see. I won't rush anything, take it game by game, and slowly find my groove. I have to play point guard now."