THE NCAA All-Star 2019 basketball match seemed like a mini-reunion for former teammates Rey Nambatac and Jerrick Balanza, as it's been two years since they last played together for Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
It's been a long time, but it was obvious that the two still had the same on-court alchemy. Rey could only be proud of how much his then ‘little brother’ Jerrick has matured since he left Letran.
“Huling magkakampi kami last 2017 pa, pero nandon pa rin ‘yung chemistry namin,” said Nambatac, who had seven points and two rebounds for team Saints. “Nakita ko kay Jerrick na sobrang nag-mature siya. Sobrang natuwa sa kanya dahil nakita ko na ginagawa niya ‘yung mga binilin ko sa kanya. As a former teammate, proud ako sa narating niya.”
The Letran grad also shared that he is impressed about how Jerrick handled his challenge of leading the Knights as he steered them to another NCAA championship a week ago.
“Bago ako grumaduate sa Letran, sinabi ko sa kanya na sa ’yo na ‘tong team na ‘to next year, so kailangan maging leader ka na, aralin mo paano maging leader and paano mo dadalhin ‘yung team,’” the Rain or Shine guard shared.
Despite the praise from his ‘kuya’ Rey, Jerrick admitted that leadership did not come easy for him — especially with the shoes he had to fill.
“Hindi ganon kadali ‘yung role na iniwan niya, pero pinasok ko ‘yon sa utak ko at alam kong kailangan kong paghirapan ‘yon. Kailangan pag leader ka, di ka pwedeng puro lang salita, kailangan mo ng aksyon. Natutunan ko kung paano siya nag-lead sa amin kasi naging follower lang din ako sa kanya dati,” said the 23-year-old NCAA All-Star 2019 MVP. Balanza made 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists for team Saints as they escaped team Heroes, 113-111, on Tuesday, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Another thing that Jerrick considers ‘one for the books’ is that, before his final curtain call in the collegiate league, he was able to play on a team with Rey again.
“Sobrang saya lang na nakalaro ko ulit siya, kasi since high school, he’s been my mentor. And every time na may big decision sa basketball, pumupunta ako sa kanya, kaya sobrang saya na sa huling laro ko sa NCAA, kasama ko pa siya,” he shared.