Stars align for Balkman's PBA comeback as San Miguel weighs import options
Renaldo Balkman is in line for a PBA comeback. Jerome Ascano

THE stars appear to be aligning for Renaldo Balkman's long-awaited return with San Miguel in the PBA.

After an 0-2 start in their Commissioner's Cup campaign, the defending champions finally hinted about the possibility of tapping a replacement for Troy Gillenwater.

And Balkman's reported arrival in the country on Sunday after a championship stint with Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) boosted all the more speculations about his return as SMB import to take over the place of Gillenwater.

"He arrived already after his much needed rest today," said Balkman's agent and representative Sheryl Reyes on her Twitter account @FemaleAgentSR on Sunday in response to an SMB fan's query on when the former NBA player will be coming over.

SMB team manager Gee Abanilla said no decision has yet been made by management on whether to keep Gillenwater or not especially in the wake of the import's ejection in the team's game against Rain or Shine Sunday night for 'physically contacting an official.' The Beermen lost the game in overtime, 123-119, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

"Wala pa," was Abanilla's curt reply as he hurriedly left the venue along with some team officials led by SMB board representative Robert Non.

But talking to reporters later, coach Leo Austria admitted considering making the move although it has yet to be discussed and approved by higher ups.

"Import namin we have to think about it. We have to evaluate," he said.

But the scenario of Balkman suiting up for the Beermen again came to fore even before the mid-season conference began.

Reinforced by his monstrous showing for Alab, the cause of the Puerto Rican import was all the more bolstered when the PBA, through commissioner Willie Marcial, officially lifted the lifetime ban imposed on him following the infamous choking incident he had with San Miguel teammate Arwind Santos during the same tournament in 2013.

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Balkman eventually steered Alab to the championship following his explosive team-up with Barangay Ginebra resident import Justine Brownlee.

The Beermen were heavily favored to win the title back then with Balkman on board until the unfortunate incident with Santos took place. His return and hopefully, redemption will definitely be a feel good story for Balkman and the Beermen.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos