PBA: Balkman inspired SMB to this Finals appearance

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 22, 2018 09:57 PM
PBA: Balkman inspired SMB to this Finals appearance
As it turns out, Renaldo Balkman was the remedy for San Miguel's slow start to the conference

San Miguel is yet again in the Finals, this time in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

While the Beermen were heavily favored to do so even before the conference began, their spot in the championship round was far from a sure thing – especially after they lost three games in a row early on.

“We’re very thankful dahil we were able to catch up at the right time,” head coach Leo Austria said on Sunday, just minutes after he and his boys finished off Alaska, 3-1, in the best-of-five semifinals series. “At 0-3, everybody was so scared and talagang worried about our situation.”

The defending champions dropped all of their games up against Meralco, Rain or Shine, and Alaska to start the conference.

As it turns out, however, they were merely missing the right reinforcement.

Enter Renaldo Balkman, the franchise’s prodigal son, who took over for Troy Gillenwater, ineffective and uninspiring in the first two games. “It (just to happened) na we changed our import and the players started to become inspired because of what he showed in the first game against Alaska,” coach Leo said.

In his first game, Balkman had 32 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, and three steals, but still saw San Miguel lose, 105-103.

Nonetheless, that immediate impact was more than enough proof for the rest of the Beermen that they have found their missing piece. “Kahit natalo kami, the players, the locals, if they see na there’s somebody who could help the team, everybody will try to do their best to help,” their always amiable mentor said.

From there, they have gone on an 11-3 tear en route to a second straight Finals appearance in the Commissioner’s Cup.

The Puerto Rican reinforcement is only relishing another shot at a title – just months after winning the Asean Basketball League championship. “I’m really blessed, man. I just won one and to try to come back and win another one right now, that’s my goal,” he said.

Along with that, he wants nothing more than to keep proving his worth. “Until now, I wanna show I still got it and I (can) keep playing. I got a lot left in my tank,” he shared.

He then continued, “Age is nothing but a number, believe that.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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