SEVILLE, SPAIN - Come Wednesday, PBA commissioner Chito Salud is bound to cross paths for the first time with the player that stirred one of the biggest controversies under his watch in the pro league.
Salud will be somewhere at ringside at the Centro Deportivo San Pablo Pavilion when Gilas Pilipinas takes on Puerto Rico and its enigmatic Renaldo Balkman, who the PBA chief banned for life after a meltdown that saw him choke Petron teammate Arwind Santos and belligerently defy his coaches.
After a rest day on Tuesday, Balkman is expected to lead Puerto Rico in the Group B match against Gilas, especially with starters Carlos Arroyo and Angel Vassallo listed as doubtful after sitting out the team's 79-90 loss to Greece on Monday night.
The 6-7 Balkman once again led Puerto Rico with 23 points and seven rebounds and, together with Minnesota Timberwolves guard JJ Barea, should prove as the biggest thorn in the side of Gilas in a game neither team can't afford to lose.
On Sunday, Balkman told Spin.ph that he holds no hard feelings after the PBA experience, adding he "loved the Philippines" and is open to the idea of playing in Asia's first pro league in the event his ban is lifted.
Salud was asked on Tuesday if there was any chance that Balkman's ban will be lifted, and the PBA chief was firm with his response.
"Let's not even go there," he said.
Asked to expound, Salud made it clear he has no plan to lift the ban anytime soon: "Now is not the time to think about that ... marami namang magagaling na import d'yan."