This early, the Letran Knights are looking for ways to fill the void left by stalwarts Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal who helped the team win the NCAA title in their last playing year.
Cruz and Racal played major roles as the Knights stopped the San Beda Red Lions in the deciding Game Three of the finals and nailed their first championship in 10 years.
Assistant coach Louie Gonzales said Jerrick Balanza and Bong Quinto will be the players to watch next year in place of Cruz and Racal when they try to defend the crown next year.
“This year we tried to control him. Magaling yung bata. Mataas ang quality (He’s a quality player),” said Gonzales of Balanza during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
In the just-concluded season, Letran coach Aldin Ayo made sure that the younger and upcoming players were given the opportunity to play.
“We wanted to see if they’re ready to play the roles to be given them. Balanza will be given a bigger opportunity next year,” he said in the session presented by San Miguel Beer, Accel, Shakey’s, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.