PBA: Balanza has quiet debut but fitting in nicely with Magnolia

PBA: Balanza has quiet debut but fitting in nicely with Magnolia

/ 06:43 PM April 14, 2024

Jerrick Balanza Magnolia Hotshots PBA

Magnolia Hotshots’ Jerrick Balanza.–PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines—Magnolia made sure Jerrick Balanza got acquainted quickly with his new team.

And while Balanza did not have a spectacular debut in Magnolia’s 107-93 win over Phoenix on Sunday, the most important thing was that the former Letran star already established some chemistry with the Hotshots.

So far, there’s been no problem with Balanza as far as gelling is concerned, considering the Hotshots welcomed him like he has been on the team for a long time.

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“It’s like we were just teasing him on his first day but that’s only because we want him to feel welcomed right away,” Magnolia guard Mark Barroca told Inquirer Sports in Filipino after tying his PBA career-high 27 points.

“We kept telling him to talk and make a speech. He already said a lot but we were still telling him to say more. He even told us, ‘kuya, ubos na bala ko.’ (Kuya, I’m all out of words) At least, we welcomed him lightly,” added Barroca in jest.

Barroca, however, clarified that while it may look like a pointless initiation from the outside looking in, their welcoming rites for Balanza were to make him feel at ease right away.

The 27-year-old Balanza was officially acquired by the Hotshots from the FiberXers on Thursday in exchange for a future draft pick.

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“It’s all in good fun that we’re teasing him like that but it’s our style of approaching new players. That’s our culture here so that no one feels alone. That’s what we do so he can adjust right away because he’s a big thing for our team. Our roster is deeper now with him.”

Balanza, who was subbed in at the 1:20 mark of the first quarter, understandably is still feeling his way into Victolero’s rotation. He scored two points in close to 15 minutes of action in his Hotshots debut.

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Victolero said it was Magnolia that proposed a trade with Converge to acquire the former Letran star.

The veteran tactician said it was crucial to acquire the services of Balanza, who could play a vital role for Magnolia as the playoff race gets tighter.

“We’re the ones who initiated the trade because we need it more. For the last few weeks, we’re so undermanned that we can’t build scrimmage teams in practice. That’s the hard part.”

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“Right now, we’re slowly building again with this addition.”

TAGS: Jerrick Balanza, Magnolia Hotshots

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