MANILA, Philippines – After 6 months of recovering from a brain tumor and one successful operation, Jerrick Balanza made an emotional return with the Letran Knights in the PBA D-League.
Clearly still rusty, Balanza struggled through a tough 94-96 loss with 6 points on 2/13 (15%) shooting and also missed the potential game-winning basket.
But none of that mattered in the end. For Balanza, he already won the moment he stepped back on the court.
“Sobrang thankful ako, lalo na kay God,” Balanza gushed after the game. “Kasi ilan lang yung nabibigyan ng chance, lalo na sa pinagdaanan ko, ilan lang yung nakakabalik talaga na 100%, ‘di ba?”
(I’m very thankful, especially to God. How many get the chance, especially with what I went through, get back to 100%, right?)
“So kanina, noong naglalaro kami, sobrang excited ako. Siguro di ko na nakontrol yung sarili ko. Alam kong hindi na ako yung kanina kasi alam kong nakabalik na ako pero, basta bawi na lang ako siguro.”
(So earlier, when we were playing, I was so excited. Maybe I wasn’t able to control myself. I know I wasn’t myself earlier even though I already came back. I’ll just bounce back.)
Although Balanza attacked with aggression all game long, he admitted that he still had fears regarding his safety.
“Ako kasi, eto yung pinakaunang nilaruan ko talaga na may liga eh, so andun pa yung nangangapa pa ako, may pressure pa sakin,” he said. “Minsan natatakot pa rin na ako na matamaan ako, pero siguro ma-oovercome ko rin. Siguro next game, ayos na ako talaga.”
(This was the first league I’ve played in [since the surgery], so I was still getting my bearings and feeling the pressure. Sometimes, I was still scared that I would get hit, but maybe I’ll overcome it. Maybe next game, I’ll be fine.)
Under new leadership with head coach Bonnie Tan, Balanza hopes that the horror of his setback would be put behind him and quickly.
“Sobrang okay kay Coach Bonnie kasi last year naman, part na rin siya ng team talaga namin kaya alam na rin niya yung mga strength at weaknesses ng bawat isa sa amin,” he said. “Kaya napadali na lang yung pagpasok niya ng sistema.”
(It’s really nice with Coach Bonnie because he was already a part of the team last year so he already knows each of our strengths and weaknesses. That’s why it was easy for him to inject his system.)
“Sabi niya lahat ng paraan para matulungan ako, gagawin niya,” he concluded.
(He said that he’d do anything to help me out.) – Rappler.com