RENALDO Balkman relished the chance to meet the President of the Philippines during San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas' courtesy call at Malacañang Palace.
Balkman, fellow import Justin Brownlee and the rest of Alab Pilipinas went to Malacañang to meet President Duterte as a reward for captuing the Asean Basketball League (ABL) title - the first Philippine team in five years to do so.
Balkman said he was honored to meet Duterte as he never imagined meeting the President of the Philippines – or any country, for that matter – ever.
“It was a great feeling. It was a great honor to meet the President,” Balkman said. “I don’t care where you are, every time you meet the president of any country, it’s a blessing.”
Five years ago, the chance at meeting the President of the Philippines was very remote especially after Balkman was sanctioned with a lifetime ban by the PBA for choking teammate Arwind Santos.
But Balkman got the opportunity to return to the Philippines early this year when he signed with Alab Pilipinas to team up with Brownlee. The partnership, as well as the contributions of Ray Parks, Lawrence Domingo, and the rest of the locals led to Alab conquering the ABL scene, beating Mono Vampire Basketball Club in a thrilling championship series.
Balkman, who is now playing for San Miguel in the PBA, said Duterte didn’t speak much to him during the courtesy visit, but felt the hospitality of the President.
“He said something in Tagalog, about hardwork or whatever. I guess he likes basketball. It was great to be there for that day,” said Balkman.
Still, Balkman said meeting the President is a culmination of the work Alab Pilipinas put in during the recent ABL season.
“We did something great this year. I got a chance to meet the President and it was a great honor. Man, I never thought I’m going to meet the president being from the US, but at the same time I did, it’s now time to keep on moving.”