Inspired will be the College of Saint Benilde Blazers when they return to the National College Athletic Association on Saturday.
Of course, it’s been two years since they last competed. Moreover, they have retooled to address some of the positions they lacked during their past campaigns under TY Tang.
Besides those reasons, the Blazers are also playing for one of its brothers, dedicating their campaign to former big man Clement Leutcheu.
The 6-foot-7 Cameroonian, who played for CSB from Season 92 to 95, passed away back in February 6, 2021 due to cardiac arrest.
And sophomore Ladis Lepalam could not forget the time he got word of his kuya’s passing.
“Nung nabalitaan ko na wala na si Clem, sobrang nalungkot ako noon kasi di ko talaga inaasahan na ganun mangyayari,” the 20-year-old Lepalam recalled.
“Sobrang nalungkot ako nin kasi isa sya sa naging kuya ko sa CSB at malaki talaga naitulong niya sa ‘kin mag-improve.”
“Pagpasok ko palang sa CSB si Clem talaga yung nag-approach sa ‘kin,” he continued. “Siyempre same kami ng position kaya tinuturo niya sa ‘kin yung mga tamang gawin.
“Si Clem hindi siya yung mahirap pakisamahan dahil sobrang bait niya at friendly. Tinuruan nya ako mag-adjust,” he shared about his senior.
“Pinaka hindi ko makakalimutan kay Clem ay yung pagiging kuya niya sa amin. Hindi siya mahirap lapitan tapos naalala ko pa nga pag kinakausap ko siya ng Tagalog, siya talaga yung nag-aadjust para sa akin.”
Even Leutcheu’s kindness has been told to new Blazer Will Gozum.
Gozum just transferred to CSB back in January of 2020.
“Everyone has been telling me na he’s really like a brother to everyone,” shared Gozum.
“Sobrang bait daw talaga at wala ka daw talaga masasabi sa pagkatao niya.”
Now, it will be up to the 6-foot-7 Gozum and the 6-foot-9 Lepalam to be the men in the middle for CSB.
“For us, we will give our all in every game like yung ginawa ni Clement dati sa CSB — yung hussle and rebounding,” said Gozum.
“Para sa ‘kin sobrang importante ng role namin kasi para sa amin, isa ito sa role na iniwan ni Clem sa amin,” added Lepalam.
“Kami yung magpapatuloy para sa kanya.”
Despite collegiate sports stopping for almost two years, Gozum and Lepalam continued to work.
“Siyempre after almost two years ng pandemic, makakalaro na ako,” said the former University of the Philippines forward.
Lepalam, meanwhile, had a chance to work with Gilas for two months late last year.
“Para sakin sobrang special ng season na to kasi isa ito sa pinaghandaan ko buong pandemic at para mapakita ko yung mga bago kung natutunan,” said Lepalam.
And definitely, they will give it their all for themselves, their school, and for Clement.