Renaldo Balkmanís redemption in the Philippines begins with a win

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jan 03, 2018 11:06 PM
Balkmanís redemption in the Philippines begins with a win
Renaldo Balkman was an immediate impact player for Alab Pilipinas

Renaldo Balkman was welcomed with open arms by Filipinos as he helped Alab Pilipinas score their very first winning streak in the 2017-2018 Asean Basketball League.

The Puerto Rican posted a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double in his debut for the Philippine side on Wednesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

Joining forces with fellow new reinforcement Justin Brownlee, they led their new team to a convincing victory versus Westports Malaysia.

For each and every cheer he received, Balkman was nothing but appreciative. “It felt great. Today was a great day to be back in the Philippines,” he said.

The win and the warm welcome were more than enough to overcome the grueling day he just had – taking a long flight to Manila where he arrived in the morning, jetlagged and sleepless. “It felt good. I didn’t expect it, but the past is the past,” he said.

The six-foot-eight forward was referring to the incident he figured in back in 2013 as a reinforcement for Petron in the PBA.

In the dying seconds of the Blaze Boosters’ game against Alaska on March 8, he was livid following what he felt was a non-call by the referees. He wound up shoving game officials, his coaches, and his teammates Ronald Tubid and Arwind Santos.

The incident ended with what is the most infamous image he has in the minds of Filipinos – him putting his two hands around the neck of Santos.

Not long after the incident, then-PBA commissioner Chito Salud banned Balkman for life and fined him PhP 250, 000.

Just like he has done in recent interviews, however, the now 33-year-old said he has moved forward from the incident. “I did lots of things since then and tonight, it wasn’t on my mind, it wasn’t on my head. I just went out there to play basketball,” he shared.

All that matters for Balkman now is to help Alab Pilipinas bring back the title to Manila. As he put it, “I’m on a mission to win a championship here,” he said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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