Seniors have the most pressure to deliver during their final year of duty with their respective schools.
But don’t tell that to Jerrick Balanza.
“Sabi nila pressure kasi bagong balik ako, maglalaro na naman ako baka pangit laruin ko sa pressure. Sinasabi ko pressure? Baka nga naubos pressure sa katawan ko eh dahil sa mga pinagdaanan,” the 22-year-old Letran lifer shared.
“Yun ang tinitignan ko talaga kaya every game nag-eenjoy na lang ako.”
Last September, Balanza’s NCAA Season 94 was cut short due to things beyond his control.
Just a few weeks before his 22nd birthday, Balanza was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to undergo an immediate operation.
It cost him the rest of his senior year.
“Lagi akong nagdadasal kay God na bigyan ako ng sign, kahit ano… Kung ano dapat kong gawin.
“Siguro ito na yun, yung mga nangyayari, talagang galing din sa Kanya. Pinaka tiwala ko lang lahat sa Kanya kung ano mangyayari sakin,” recalled Balanza, a father, a student, and an athlete.
During the off-season, the 6-foot-2 winger worked his way back. In the D-League, he learned how to play again. In the summer leagues, he learned how to be a team player once more. In Letran, he learned how to be a Knight anew.
“Thankful talaga ako kay God na kahit binigyan niya ako ng ganung pag subok, di niya ako hinayaan. Nilabanan ko talaga.”
His debut though did not go as planned as Letran lost an 80-84 heartbreaker against neighbors Lyceum Pirates last Sunday.
Balanza made sure that it won’t happen again in their second game, dropping a career-high 31 points to lift Letran past the Arellano Chiefs, 81-72.
And it was in this game that he learned how to be a leader.
“Part na to ng buhay ko eh. Ginusto ko to na maging basketball player so nag eenjoy ako,” he said. “Blessed ako na naging leader ako ng Letran.
“Ang tagal ko na sa Letran. Talagang mahal na mahal ko ang Letran. Di ako umalis sa Letran.”
No pressure at all. Just love.