PETRON import Renaldo Balkman was not known for his scoring in his NBA days. And he will be content to keep it that way as long as the Boosters achieve their goal in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup next month.
The six-year NBA veteran is more focused on the big picture, which is to help the Boosters bounce back from a premature exit in the ongoing Philippine Cup and finally translate their tag as the league’s best team on paper into success on the court.
“I can score two points and if we win the game I’ll be happy,” said the New York Knicks’ former first-round draft pick, who averaged just four points (51-percent shooting) and 3.5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game during his NBA career with the Knicks and the Denver Nuggets.
“They got scorers,” Balkman continued. “I didn’t come here to score fifty points per game. I came here to play team basketball, be the energy guy, and play hard.”
The dreadlocked Balkman, who watched Game One of the Philippine Cup Finals between Talk N Text and Rain or Shine at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night, has had two practices with the Boosters since arriving in Manila last Sunday.
And the 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward has so far had a good impression of his teammates.
“Very talented and workhorses,” he said. “They love the game of basketball. And if you put those together, that’s a championship team.”
On paper, the Boosters are indeed title contenders with a collection of all-stars led by Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, and prized rookie Junemar Fajardo. But the San Miguel Corp.-owned team has yet to live up to expectations after getting eliminated in the quarterfinals of the current conference.
Balkman believes the road to greatness is a process and time will tell if his powerhouse team can achieve it.
“We got to take it game by game, day by day. That’s why we’re practicing early so we can be the number one team, be the best,” he said.
“Time will tell.”
The PBA will be the first league Balkman plays in since the Knicks released him, and the South Carolina alumnus intends to "make the best out of it."
Asked what convinced him to play in Asia’s first play-for-pay league, Balkman said he is just itching to get back on the court.
“Basketball is what I do. And I’ve been sitting too long.”
The 28-year-old Balkman actually last played competitively for Puerto Rico in the World Championships two months ago and has kept himself in tip-top shape ever since.
“So it’s been a couple of months. But I still work out every day. I’m a gym rat. I do what I have to do.”
He has only been in the country for four days, but it feels like home.
“They embraced me. Everything makes me want to be here. Sometimes you go somewhere and you don’t want to be there but they brought me here and make me feel like it’s my home. I’m comfortable. It gets better and better by the day.”