WITH the way he ran the court, Renaldo Balkman looked like he was in his youthful days with the New York Knicks in San Miguel Alab Pilipinas' 94-67 win over CLS Knights Indonesia last Wednesday.
The 6-foot-8 Puerto Rican import didn't look like he was 34 at all as he powered his way to 33 points and 11 rebounds in the opening win for the defending champions in Sta. Rosa.
Balkman looked like he belong to the youthful new faces of the team in Caelan Tiongson, Brandon Rosser, and Ethan Alvano, hustling on both ends of the court as Alab pummeled the visitors from start to finish.
"I feel like I'm still young. I can run with the rest of them," said Balkman
"By putting me around guys who love to run and love to play defense, man they're everywhere, that just makes us better," he added.
Balkman was all praises for the new faces in the squad as the trio reinforced an already solid local crew led by Ray Parks, Laurence Domingo, and Pao Javelona.
If they can keep the effort that they brought in their opener, then Balkman believes teams are up for a long ride this season.
"Not to take anything away from our veterans, we won a championship with them but this team right here is special. These young guys they love to play defense and they play hard each possession," Balkman said.
"Defense wins championship they keep a solid mind on defense first then it's gonna be a long season for other teams," he added.
Balkman believes that the energy came from the long wait that the team had to go through, playing just for the time nearly a month after the ABL season formally opened.
"We had a long long time to practice. We were beating each other up in practice and finally we had a chance to play. We had two practice game in between but I don’t think that was enough," Balkmam said.
"Overall we had a great game. We knew we had to come out and play hard. We've been practicing hard for eight weeks and the guys showed a lot of courage in there. They played well," he added.
But as fun as the season opener is for them, Balkman said that they're not gonna look much into it - keeping that one game at a time mentality which resulted into championship for them last year.
" Like I said we're gonna take it one game at a time. We won last year now we have to win it again," sais Balkman
"One game at a time all the time. We cant win five games in a game."