Amid clamor for Rhodes, Balkman, new SMB import Gillenwater vows to prove worth
New SMB import Troy Gillenwater is looking to prove his worth with high standards set by former reinforcement Charles Rhodes. Karlo Sacamos

WHILE former San Miguel Beer imports have been getting attention, the one that’s actually in the spot is eager to make some noise.

There has been talk about the prospect of Charles Rhodes and Renaldo Balkman possibly returning to the Beermen for the Commissioner’s Cup, but Troy Gillenwater is out to prove to his worth as SMB’s new reinforcement for the midseason tournament.

Rhodes was expected to make a comeback after leading the Beermen in their Commissioner’s Cup title run last year, but the reigning Best Import is currently unavailable due to his stint in the Korean Basketball League.

Balkman, for his part, is cleared to play in the league again after the lifetime ban slapped on him five years ago has been finally lifted on Tuesday.

But Gillenwater assured that he can live up to the expectations that Rhodes fulfilled last season.

“To the fans, don’t be nervous,” the 29-year-old Gillenwater said in a chat with after practice on Tuesday. “I know you, guys, love Charles Rhodes, but just trust in me, and we’ll be fine. Don’t panic.”

“I always got the attitude that I have something to prove, so this is no different," added the American journeyman, a New Mexico product who’s had professional stints in Korea, Greece, Russia, Japan, and Turkey. “I feel like I got something to prove and that’s how I’m coming. Be ready.”

Gillenwater is familiar to the local basketball scene, having played for the import-loaded Philippine team sponsored by Mighty Sports that ruled the Jones Cup in Taiwan last year.

And he’s also eager to fit in with the Beermen to achieve the same result in the Commissioner’s Cup.

“I just got to come out, be confident, play as a team, and there’s no pressure,” Gillenwater.


For now, Gillenwater is cheering on the sidelines as the all-Filipino Beermen are three wins away from defending the Philippine Cup for the record fourth straight time, this time at the expense of Magnolia.

“I think we should be able to pull it off,” Gillenwater said. “We’re going against a don’t-quit team. They play hard every game; they don’t give up, but as long as we do what we need to do, I think we should be fine.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos