ARWIND Santos has welcomed Renaldo Balkman back at San Miguel Beer with open arms, looking forward to teaming up with the controversial import in their defense of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title.
Santos reiterated he doesn’t mind reuniting with Balkman, who choked him while the local star was just trying to calm him down amid an outburst over a non-call in 2013, leading to his ban from the league that lasted five years.
“Oo naman, everybody deserves a second chance,” Santos said on Wednesday after Balkman’s first practice with SMB. “Wala na, hindi ako nagtatanim ng galit.”
“Siguro magkakailangan lang ng una, kasi parang, alam mo yun, parang mga babaeng maaarte na naghihintayan kung sino mauuna, pero okay na okay na kami,” he added.
The two teammates have already mingled.
“Oo, kanina, although hindi kami nakapag-usap ng matagal kasi nauubusan ako ng bala dyan. Yung accent niyan ang lalim,” Santos said, drawing laughter from the reporters.
“Pero at least ang pagkakaiba ngayon, si Renaldo nung dumating siya, nakangiti siya, sobrang positive energy ang pinapakita niya. Matutuwa ka din,” he added.
Balkman comeback’s was completed when the Beermen decided to replace Troy Gillenwater, who failed to lead SMB to a win in two games. He also made matters worse by having his own run-in with an official, leading to his early ejection in SMB’s 123-119 overtime loss to Rain or Shine last Sunday.
That revived the talk on who between Balkman or reigning Best Import Charles Rhodes should take over.
“Ang amin lang namang players ay manalo,” Santos, a seven-time champion, said. “Kahit sinong import, sabi ko nga nung last interview after nung natalo kami sa Rain or Shine, kahit sinong import, kahit sino sa kanilang dalawa ni Rhodes, walang problema, kasi pareho naman silang talagang may matitutulong sa amin.”
The Beermen decided to pick Balkman, who is coming off a championship conquest in the Asean Basketball League with Alab Pilipinas.
And Santos is keen on conspiring with Balkman in helping the Beermen in their title-retention bid.
“Basta nagkita ulit kami, sana ma-perfect namin 'yung samahan namin tapos makuha namin yung goal,” Santos said. “I’m sure kaya siya bumalik kasi gusto nga niyang makapag-champion dito. Syempre tutulungan namin, magtutulungan kami bawat isa.”
Santos, however, will have to keep making a small sacrifice in terms of his playing time as he plays the same position as Balkman.
“Si Renaldo Balkman naman, yung position niya, talagang kailangan namin,” Santos said. “Kailangan nga mag-sacrifice ulit ako, yung minuto ko, pwedeng siya ang gumamit, pwede kaming magkasabay. Kung ganun talaga ang mangyayari, hindi mo kailangan isipin na may kulang o hindi maganda.”
“Kanina, ni-run namin, magkakasabay kami, maganda naman ang tingin ko, nangangamoy panalo sa game namin sa Dumaguete,” he concluded ahead of their road game against Alaska on Saturday when they hope to put an end to their two-game losing streak.