Alapag expects Balkman, Brownlee to cross paths again in PBA playoffs
The Renaldo Balkman-Justin Brownlee duel reminds Alab coach Jimmy Alapag of his imports' battles in practices. Marlo Cueto

AMID all the chaos that was the San Miguel-Ginebra game on Sunday was one curious observer who is all too familiar with Beermen reinforcement Renaldo Balkman and Gin Kings import Justin Brownlee.

Jimmy Alapag, the same coach who steered the two to the 2018 ASEAN Basketball League championship under the banner of San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas, sat on the VIP section of Mall of Asia Arena with Bobby Ray Parks and team owner Charlie Dy, and enjoyed the duel between his two former wards.

And for the 2011 PBA MVP, Alapag was elated to see Balkman and Brownlee go at it just like how they did in Alab practices.

“Great game from both sides, a lot of big-time plays offensively and defensively and I was just happy to have watched it,” he said.

Balkman got the better of Brownlee this time out with San Miguel taking the 104-97 victory over Ginebra in overtime.

The Puerto Rican import also had the better numbersl, tallying 27 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and a steal. The beloved Gin Kings reinforcement didn’t lag too far behind with his 18-point, 14-board, seven-assist job.

Alapag said the match lived up to the hype.

“It’s not just for me, but for the fans. I think they gave the fans what they wanted to see, just a quality game between two high-quality imports and two championship-caliber teams,” he said.

There was no doubt in Alapag’s mind that this won’t be the last time these two teams meet each other.

“Even if San Miguel won, I think these two teams showed that there’s a strong possibility that they could be there in the end,” he said, predicting deep runs for both the Beermen and the Gin Kings with Balkman and Brownlee in tow, respectively.

“If both teams continue to be healthy, they’ll be there. It was a great game and I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “This was definitely a playoff-type basketball game and it was fun to watch.”

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