RENALDO Balkman provided the energy, the hustle and plenty of showtime dunks in the second half as Petron tore apart a skidding Barangay Ginebra five, 105-90, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-8 NBA veteran scored 17 points in a pivotal third-quarter scoring blitz - eight of them coming from rim-rattling dunks against a slumbering Ginebra defense as the Boosters turned a close game at halftime into a full-blown rout, 83-60.
Mark Caguioa tried to will the Gin Kings back into the game, shooting three-pointers, floating jumpers and layups to slash the Boosters lead to 82-95 with under four minutes to play. But that proved to be the Gin Kings’ last stand as Petron turned once more to Balkman for back-to-back baskets that put out the fire.
“The team talked about consistency. Iyan ang pinag-uusapan namin this conference. I told them let’s just be consistent and come out with a lot of intensity and energy in the game. That’s our main focus right now, especially on our defense,” said Petron coach Olsen Racela.
While Petron won its second straight game after bowing to Globalport in its conference debut, the Gin Kings dropped their third successive match in import Herbert Hill's final game with the league's most popular club.
The out-of-shape Hill's forgettable stint with Ginebra actually ended way earlier as a frustrated Al Chua simply gave up on him and benched the import the entire fourth quarter, putting rookie Yousef Taha in his place.
Balkman finished with 34 points to go along with 10 rebounds and two shot blocks as he totally outclassed Hill, who bid the Kings farewell with a 16-point, 11-rebound, six-turnover performance.
Hill will be replaced by Vernon Macklin, the Detroit Pistons’ 52nd pick overall in the NBA 2011 draft who is expected to arrive by Monday night. The 6’11” Macklin will make his debut in the Gin Kings’ fourth game of the conference on Saturday in their road game in Tubod, Lanao del Norte against the unbeaten Alaska Aces.
Meantime, rookie big man June Mar Fajardo finished with a personal conference-high of 18 points and seven rebounds while Jay Washington and Arwind Santos chipped in 14 and 11 points, apiece.
Caguioa scored 24 points to lead Ginebra, one of only two winless squads remaining in the import-spiced mid-season tournament.
Petron 105 - Balkman 34, Fajardo 18, Washington 14, santos 11, Lassiter 8, Miranda 7, Yeo 5, Cabagnot 5, Tubid 3, Sison 0, Faundo 0, Pena 0
Brgy Ginebra 90 - Caguioa 24, Tenorio 19, Hill 16, Maierhofer 10, Baracael 7, Taha 6, Ellis 2, Labagala 2, Mamaril 2, Raymundo 2, Espiritu 0, Helterbrand 0, Hatfield 0
Quarterscores: 24-20, 51-44, 86-63, 105-90