PETRON Blaze coach Olsen Racela stood by his embattled import Renaldo Balkman, saying the import’s unexpected action was triggered by his passion to win.
“Ganon naman yun eh, that’s how much he wants to win,” said Racela of the former NBA player. “Yun yung passion sa laro kaya ganoon maglaro si Balkman every game kasi ayaw niya yung natatalo.”
The rookie coach, who was among the last one to leave the Petron dugout in the aftermath of Balkman’s unraveling in a 73-83 loss to Alaska Aces Friday night, likened the team to a family where conflicts arise, yet, members try to settle the disagreements among themselves.
“Just like family, nag-aaway-away, pero sila-sila rin ang nag-patch up kung ano ang kailangan ayusin,” explained the Petron rookie coach.
The 6-foot-6 Balkman lost his cool when he failed to get a foul from game officials in the final 20 seconds of the match. He complained incessantly to referee Rey Yante, and then shoved deputy coach Biboy Ravanes, Ronald Tubid, and Arwind Santos as they tried to pacify him.
He and Santos later shoved each other, before he grabbed the lanky Petron forward by the neck to the horror of the lean Big Dome crowd.
“Syempre frustrated siya na hindi maganda laro niya, talo na kami kaya nangyari yun. But he realized what he has done kanina sa loob (ng dugout), so okay na,” Racela said.
The Petron coach revealed Balkman already apologized to his teammates and the coaching staff for misbehaving late in the game.
“But the important thing is alam niya pagkakamali niya and nag-sorry siya sa amin, nag-sorry siya sa mga teammates niya,” said Racela.
As for any sanction by the team on its import, Racela said the coaching staff is set to meet with management, including PBA chairman Robert Non and SMC sports director Noli Eala to talk about the incident.
“Wala pa. We’re going to talk among ourselves (coaches) pati sina boss Robert kakausapin namin and boss Noli,” said Racela, who added that Balkman is staying with the Boosters for the meantime.