PETRON coach Olsen Racela said on Monday he felt the decision to ban Renaldo Balkman for life was too harsh, saying the lifetime ban not only ended the import's PBA career but also jeopardized his chance of finding playing opportunities elsewhere.
“Personally, mahirap kasi kasama namin siya (Balkman) araw-araw sa practice for about two months. And it’s just sad to see Rey’s basketball career (in the PBA) end this way,” Racela told Spin.ph on Monday.
“The lifetime ban ... mabigat since basketball is his profession so pati yung chances niyang makakuha ng contract sa ibang bansa eh maaapektuhan,” he added.
Racela said the ban has also left Petron, which went 5-2 (win-loss) with the former New York Knick, in a difficult situation since the team has to immediately find a replacement for an import who averaged 25 points, 13.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.7 blocks and 2.0 steals with the Boosters.
Rodney White, the 32-year-old forward out of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, is currently on the Boosters’ radar, but Racela said formal negotiations with the former Barako Bull import have yet to start.
“It takes time to find a replacement. So kailangan maka-come up na kami ng short list by Tuesday afternoon kasi bibiyahe pa iyan, may negotiation pa for a contract bago iyan darating dito,” said the 42-year-old rookie mentor.
Worst-case scenario is Petron may end up playing without an import on Saturday when it clashes with Rain or Shine in an out-of-town game in Panabo, Lanao del Norte, according to Racela.
“Di pa kasi kami decided kung sino and since wala pa kami napipili, we might even play without an import against Rain or Shine on Saturday,” he said.