THERE'S no doubt in Jerrick Balanza's mind that it's still Letran which will come away victorious in the NCAA Season 95 seniors' basketball finals.
"Confident ako. Amin ito. Amin ito talaga," he said as he stood defiant after the Knights' 79-76 Game Two defeat to San Beda on Friday.
It was a tough outing for the Knights, which seemingly had the win in the bag after Larry Muyang put them ahead, 76-74, with 55.4 seconds left.
But their inability to execute in the endgame, none more painful than what could have been the go-ahead reverse from Bonbon Batiller, doomed that quest for a sweep as the Red Lions lived to fight another day.
It's such a painful experience that reduced a number of Letran players to tears except for Balanza, who as this team's captain, was the first to remind his squad that the job still isn't over and the season is not lost.
"Umiyak sila. Pero ako na kapitan nila, di ko sila pinakitaan ng ganoon, na na-down ako," the 6-foot-2 winger said after posting nine points on a frustrating 3-of-12 shooting night, to go with four rebounds and two assists in the loss.
"Di ako umiiyak. Talagang pinakita ko sa kanila na nakangiti ako, na okay yung mukha ko kasi di ba, ako yung kapitan eh. Sa akin magsisimula talaga."
Balanza is rather viewing this loss as a momentary hump on the road, with both teams gunning to win it all come Game Three on Tuesday.
"Ako, tinatanaw ko na positibo ito kasi pinapasarap lang ito ni Lord," he said. "Sa amin pa rin ito at sa amin pa rin yung Game Three, yun ang sinabi ko sa team ko."
"Si Larry, iyak nang iyak, pero sabi ko tignan mo lang nang positibo. Ayaw pa tayong paghiwa-hiwalayin kasi hanggang prayer natin ng last ensayo natin, binabanggit ko na masakit man sa akin, Lord, na maghihiwalay kami ng teammates ko, mas ginugusto ng mas nakararami na itong mangyari sa grupo namin."
And as bittersweet as the winner-take-all clash will be for the 23-year-old knowing that this will definitely be his final game as a Knight, Balanza is looking to make it a memorable one.
"Masakit kasi last game ko na at last game na naming magkakasama. Pero mas gusto kong sabihin ko na masaya ako na ito na yung last game ko," he said before making one final promise.
"Positive lang tayo, sa atin pa rin yan."