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Teamwork key for Letran’s Game One win, says Balanza

by Niel Victor Masoy, November 12, 2019 8:02pm

Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) drew first blood in its best-of-three Finals series against San Beda University (SBU) on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

And the key for that Game One, 65-64 win was all about but teamwork, according to Knights team captain Jerrick Balanza.

“Siguro team work (yung susi sa panalo),” said Balanza as Letran moved a win away from claiming the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) season 95 Men’s basketball tournament title and its 18th overall championship.

“Kasi kahit tignan mo yung stats talagang teamwork talaga eh. Wala yung one-man na nagingibaw, wala balance talaga eh, yun yung inensayo namin eh,” added the graduating Balanza.

The Knights showed their teamwork against the Red Lions, indeed.

Six players scored at least seven points for Letran, with the also graduating Bonbon Batiller topscoring for the Knights with 12 points.

Balanza and Fran Yu notched 10 markers apiece, while Jeo Ambohot scored nine points and Larry Muyang and Kurt Reyson chipped in seven points each.

Letran also shared the ball more than San Beda did as the former put up 17 assists, while the latter had only 10 in the back-and-forth contest. The Knights’ number of assists also resulted to them shooting more efficiently than the Red Lions.

Letran shot 41.67 percent from the field (25-of-60), while San Beda shot 30.23 percent (26-of-86) only.

The Knights knew that in order for them to beat the mighty and the four-peat seeking Red Lions, who never lost in the elimination round, they have to do it as a team.

And for Balanza, that’s what happened in Game One.

“Diba nung first round laging ako (gumagawa ng opensa). Napansin ni coach Bonnie (Tan). Alam nya, sinabi nya sa’kin eh, ‘di tayo aabot sa goal natin pag ganyan,” uttered Balanza. 

“Sacrifice ako, kelangan gumaling yung teammates ko, kelangan nila ma-boost yung kumpyansa nila kasi pagdating ng ganito, hindi naman pwedeng ako na lang diba. Kunyare kanina ako lang, sa tingin ko kung ako lang tatambakan kami ng San Beda eh.”

Balanza knows full well that the Red Lions will come back swinging and roaring in Game Two on Friday also at the Mall of Asia Arena.

With that, he stressed that the Knights should want the win more than the defending champions in Game Two.

“Alam namin yung San Beda, grabe yung lalaruin sa Game Two. Kailangan matumbasan namin yun kasi gusto ng team na wala ng Game Three kasi nakauna na kami eh,” said Balanza. 

“Ang masasabi ko lang kung sino mas gusto manalo, yun yung mananalo. Kasi ganun yung nangyari kanina kasi talagang motivated yung team (Letran).” 

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