Gillenwater's early ejection bolsters fans' clamor for Balkman return to SMB
SMB players, coaches and officials complain after Troy Gillenwater's ejection. Marlo Cueto

ANTIPOLO CITY – It proved to be a short night for Troy Gillenwater after the San Miguel import was thrown out late in the second period of the team’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup game against Rain or Shine on Sunday for ‘physically contacting an official.’

The incident occurred at the final 2:29 mark of the second quarter and the defending champions leading, 49-42.

Commissioner Willie Marcial said the infraction meant outright ejection and said Gillenwater will be summoned by his office within the week.

The San Miguel import had 11 points (5-of-9 from the floor) and three rebounds in 13 minutes of play before being tossed out of the playing area of the Ynares Center here. The Beermen though, held a 63-49 lead at the break.

Gillenwater has been under extreme pressure even before the conference started as San Miguel fans have been clamoring for the return of Renaldo Balkman, whose lifetime ban in the PBA has been lifted by Marcial after getting the blessing of former league commissioner Chito Salud under whose term the sanction was imposed on the former NBA player.

It didn’t help Gillenwater’s case that Balkman steered Alab Pilipinas to the championship of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) in tandem with resident Ginebra import Justine Brownlee.

San Miguel still holds the playing rights on the 33-year-old Balkman, who suited up for the team in the 2013 edition of the Commissioner’s Cup, but got embroiled in that infamous choking incident with Petron teammate Arwind Santos that led to his life ban.

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