JERRICK Balanza rises as new leader for Letran, less than a year after a brain tumor derailed his NCAA career.
"Jerrick Balanza is our leader, and in any team, nandoon yung great responsibility for him. Naka-recover na sa injury niya and excited kami na makasama ulit siya," said Knights team manager-turned-head coach Bonnie Tan.
Balanza averaged 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in nine games with Letran last year.
Now the 22-year-old looks better than ever, the 6-foot-2 winger averaging 17.4 points 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals in the 2019 PBA D-League with Petron-Letran.
As much as Balanza will be counted on to lead the fight for the Knights, Tan tempered expectations, with the squad still adjusting after coach Jeff Napa was replaced.
"Right now, we're still learning. Sinosolve pa namin lahat ng mga ginagawa naming mali dahil hindi pa maubos eh," he said. "Kami naman, gusto namin sa team is we're trying to improve every game as individuals and as a team. Gutom pa sa improvement yung team."
Last season's Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang, alongside Jeo Ambohot and Bonbon Batiller are back in the fold for the Knights, who are looking to surpass their third place finish last year and return to the finals for the first time since 2015.
"Dapat lang na malaman ng players na contender kami. We're trying to improve yung standing last season, so there's that pressure, pero doon kami aabante at doon kami magi-improve as a team," said Tan.