TWO years ago, Jerrick Balanza sat at the end of the Letran Knights bench, waiting for his "Kuya" Rey Nambatac's instructions. Fast forward to today, the latter has just witnessed his rookie steer their collegiate team to the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball championship.
On Tuesday, the two reunited as teammates in the 2019 All-Star Game at the Mall of Asia Arena, and Rey could only be proud of Jerrick's growth both as a player and person.
"Para sa akin, PBA-ready na talaga si Jerrick," said the 25-year-old PBA guard. "Continue niya lang 'yung ginagawa niya ngayon. Pagdating sa PBA, more on competitiveness kailangan. As much as possible, dapat marunong ka paano i-outsmart 'yung mga kalaban mo. 'Yun lang 'yung mga konting adjustments niya para sa'kin kasi overall naman nandun na siya, kaya na eh."
The 23-year-old Balanza, however, owes it all to his Kuya Rey, who has been his role model ever since.
"Natutunan ko kung paano siya nag-lead sa'min, kasi naging follower lang ako sa kanya," Jerrick shared. "Kailangan 'pag leader ka, 'di pwedeng puro ka lang salita, siyempre kailangan mo ng aksyon."
Balanza, who was hailed as the MVP of the exhibition match, had 14 points and four rebounds, while Nambatac added seven markers and two boards for Team Saints.