MERALCO believes Renaldo Balkman will be a great fit for the Bolts when they plunge into action in the Fiba Asia Champions Cup from September 24 to 29 in Bangkok.
Meralco team manager Paolo Trillo said Balkman was on top of their wish list as the second import that will team up with Allen Durham in the annual competition featuring the top club teams in Asia.
“Sa Champions Cup kasi, you are allowed two reinforcements. Obviously, si AD na ‘yung isa. We had to go through a list of names for a second import. Dun sa listahan namin, Balkman was one of our top choices and the decision to choose him, parang tailor made siya for this type of a tournament,” Trillo said.
“When we played there last year, ‘yung mga bigs in the Champions Cup, they can shoot outside, they are versatile. We want an import to play up and down, can defend outside and inside. Tingin namin, Balkman would be a great fit,” said Trillo.
Balkman played in the PBA with San Miguel in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup before rejoining San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) right after the stint with the Beermen.
Recently, Balkman suited up for Mighty Sports Philippines in the Jones Cup where he was named as the MVP of the tournament.
Meralco coach Norman Black also felt Balkman was the best option for the Bolts.
“We had a choice of getting him or getting taller players. But we decided to go with the guy we felt was the best player. He’s been playing very, very well recently. He played well in the Jones Cup and he is playing for the Puerto Rican national team right now.
"So I know he is good and I know he is in shape because he is actually playing basketball right now,” said Black.
Trillo said Balkman will fly to the Philippines straight from China to join the Bolts for the Fiba-Asia Champions Cup buildup.
The Bolts finished fourth in the competition last year, but are facing tough opponents this time with Chinese Basketball Association champions Guangdong Southern Tigers, Korean Basketball League champions Ulsan Hyundai Mobis Phoebus and Japan B.League champions Alvark Tokyo all taking part.
Trillo made it clear recruiting Balkman doesn’t mean that the Bolts are already considering him to be an import for the team next year in the PBA.
“We are not thinking too far ahead. We wanted him for this tournament. Sometimes, with imports, it’s a matter of timing. We know he is going to be in good shape and at the same time, he is available,” said Trillo.