Drawing inspiration from ailing Knight, Quinto, Muyang lift Letran past Arellano
For a teammate and friend, Bong Quinto and Larry Muyang came through with an inspired performance as Letran blasted Arellano, 99-82, Thursday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament to splash a ray of sunshine on what has been a gloomy past couple of days for the school.
The Knights were playing high on emotion, a day after it was made public that teammate Jerrick Balanza would be out of the season as he prepares to undergo surgery to remove a brain tumor.
And Letran entered the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City with a purpose, slapping Balanza’s No. 7 on the left shoulder of their jerseys.
Quinto, who was coming off back-to-back triple-doubles, collected 26 points, 12 assists and eight boards while Muyang posted his NCAA-best 23 points in helping the Knights land their seventh win in 10 games.
Interestingly, Balanza turned 22 yesterday and his fervent wish is for him to get back to the basketball court in no time.
The Chiefs fell to their sixth defeat against four wins.
St. Benilde survived a career scoring effort by Nigerian Prince Eze as it eked out a 91-87 victory over Perpetual in the other game to remain at third spot.
Yankie Haruna paced the Blazers with 19 points including the go-ahead basket with 55 seconds to go that also gave them their seventh victory against three defeats.
Justin Gutang hit a crucial triple while Unique Naboa made four free throws to help St. Benilde fend off Perpetual’s desperate fightback.
The 6-foot-9 Eze scored a career-best 36 points in the loss.
Fr. Vic Calvo, OP, Letran’s representative to the NCAA Management Committee, bared the news regarding Balanza’s illness late Wednesday after a diagnosis from neurosurgeon Dr. Manuel Mariano recommending Balanza to undergo an operation to remove the tumor.
If the operation is successful, Balanza should be back by November at the earliest.
The 21-year-old Balanza averaged 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in the first round.
“Yes, we need him (Balanza), but his health is our primary concern,” said Calvo.
Balanza, however, will need money as the operation will cost him at least P500,000.