LOVE and loyalty to his alma mater convinced former Batang Gilas player Jerrick Balanza stay put at Letran and play for the Knights in college.
The 6-foot-1 wingman has started attending practices of the varsity team every weekend as his way of showing commitment to the school where he spent his high school playing days.
“Napamahal na rin po kasi ako doon e,” said the 18-year-old Balanza when asked by Spin.ph for his reason for staying put.
Balanza averaged 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in his final year with the Squires, who finished third at the end of the elimination round and lost to eventual champion San Beda in the Final Four.
He also had a stint with Batang Gilas in the Fiba-Asia Under-18 Championship last year.
Balanza is following the route taken by former Letran high school star Rey Nambatac, who also decided to stay with Letran in college and is now in his third season with the Knights.
The young guard said he’s slowly starting to adopt to the system of the Knights under new coach Aldin Ayo.
“Okay naman po 'yung samahan. Nakaka-adapt na ako sa bagong sistema,” he said.
Before his stint in college, Balanza will still play in the All-Star Game of the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) scheduled on March 8 at the Meralco gym.
“Nung na-receive ko lang 'yung text na ini-invite nila ako sa tryouts, parang napatalon na po ako sa tuwa. Bihira lang po na mapunta sa ganito,” said Balanza.
He attributes his improved play to his stint with Batang Gilas last year.
“Napaka-gandang experience sa akin 'yun. Nagkaroon ako ng confidence bago mag-NCAA,” said Balanza.