IMPORT Renaldo Balkman continued his inspiring play as he powered the rampaging Petron Blaze to its fifth straight win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup - an easy 91-78 victory over Barako Bull on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-6 Balkman came away with 33 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, four steals and one block. Moreover, his hustle plays kept Petron's energy at a high level the entire game while his rim-rattling dunks demoralized an already struggling Barakoside.
“I’m comfortable playing with anybody whether it's June Mar (Fajardo) or Jay Washington. I always say, there’s no 'I' in the word team,” Balkman said after leading the Boosters to a fifth straight win for a 5-1 record - good for second place behind unbeaten Alaska Milk.
Barako Bull absorbed its second straight loss and fell to 3-3 under Serbian consultant Rajko Toroman, who faced off with Petron coach Olsen Racela for the first time since resigning from the SMC organization.
Racela got the better of the duel, but was quick to recognize that his players' familiarity with Toroman's system helped them put the clamps on Barako Bull's shooters.
So good was the Boosters' defense that they held the Energy Cola to just three baskets from beyond the arc in the first half on the way to a 45-27 lead.
“The thing with coach Rajko’s system is it’s a matter of execution. It’s how you execute and set the screen and the timing, though it helps that (our) players know his plays already,” said Racela.
Balkman proved unstoppable in the second half with drives to the basket, dunks and medium-range jump shots as he towed Petron to its biggest lead at 66-41 midway in the third period.
Barako Bull tried closed the gap at 76-64 with 4:06 left in the game, but Balkman completed a three-point play on the other end and Ronald Tubid nailed back-to-back three-pointers to put the game away.
Meanwhile, Tubid marked his first face-off with Barako Bull since the trade to Petron by becoming the 66th player to make it to the 5,000-point club.
Tubid finished the game with 10 points, eight rebounds and one steal.
Petron 91 - Balkman 33, Santos 14, Fajardo 10, Tubid 10, Lassiter 6, Miranda 4, Pena 4, Lanete 3, Yeo 3, Washington 3, Sison 1, Faundo 0
Barako Bull 78 - Brock 20, Seigle 17, Anthony 12, Maliksi 9, Urbiztondo 6, Macapagal 5, Villanueva 4, Weinstein 0, Kramer 0, Intal 0
Quarterscores: 21-16, 45-27, 68-47, 91-78