RENALDO Balkman deserves not just a second, but a third and even fourth chance as far as Arwind Santos is concerned.
Santos won’t mind if San Miguel Beer will tap the services of its former import who choked the SMB star in 2013 and earned a lifetime ban that the PBA only lifted just recently.
“Unang-una, masaya ako para sa kanya na nakabalik siya,” Santos told SPIN.ph after practice on Tuesday on the eve of Game Four of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals against Magnolia.
“Kasi sabi ko nga, sa lahat ng mga interviews, everybody deserves a second chance, kasi hindi natin pwede diktahan ang tao na pagka nagkamali ng isa, dalawa, tatlo, mali na siya forever, hindi na siya magbabago,” he added.
The Beermen have already signed Troy Gillenwater for the Commissioner’s Cup, but Santos is open to the possibility of reuniting with Balkman.
“Oo naman,” the former MVP said. “Sabi ko nga, kung ako…masaya sa kanya, tapos sasabihin kong ‘pero sa amin, hindi siya pwede maging import.’ Hindi naman pwede yun, ‘di ba? (Kung) maging teammates kami ulit, walang problema sa akin.”
“I know naman na si Balkman talagang mahal niya naman ang Pilipinas at ang mga Pilipino,” he added.
SMB coach Leo Austria is open to the possibility of tapping the services of Balkman, but is not looking that far ahead, staying focused on the task at hand and crossing his fingers that Gillenwater can get the job done in SMB’s title-retention bid in the midseason tournament.
“Hindi pa namin pinag-uusapan yan eh, pero the good thing is there’s always an import na pwedeng pumasok sa amin,” Austria said. “Right now, we’re concentrating on our team dahil second conference, malayo pa yan.”
“Bago ma-lift yung ban na yun, nakapag-prepare na kami, nakakuha kami ng import, but ang import is – on any team naman – ang import lagi trial-and-error yan eh,” he added. “Hindi kami sinuswerte before, except yung kay Arizona (Reid) at kay (Charles) Rhodes. Makikita natin sa first few games kung ano talaga ang kailangan namin, pero I’m confident na yung import namin ngayon to deliver.”
Asked if Balkman can sustain the form he had with Petron, Santos is hoping that his solid showing for Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League can translate into a big comeback in the PBA – if and when the Beermen do call him up.
“Hindi ko masabi (yung laro ni Balkman), pero so far, maganda naman nilalaro nila sa Alab. Ang laki ring bagay yung contribution niya dun,” Santos said. “And NBA-caliber pa rin si Balkman, kahit papaano, may ibubuga talaga yan.”