RENALDO Balkman thought San Miguel got a little bit complacent late in its PBA Commissioner’s Cup game against Globalport following the ejection of Batang Pier import Malcolm White on account of two technical fouls.
That mindset obviously cost the defending champions in the endgame of a close 98-94 loss Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“You know with an import or without an import, we still got to play basketball, we still got to stay focused,” said the former NBA player, who came in as a replacement for Troy Gillenwater.
White was whistled for his second technical foul of the game with 8:09 to play in the final quarter for an outright ejection and San Miguel leading by five.
But instead of self-destructing, the Batang Pier battled the Beermen toe-to-toe before finally taking the lead for good, 95-92, on a clutch trey by Nico Elorde in the final 48 seconds.
Balkman, who was temporarily taken out at the 4:57 mark after twisting his left ankle, gave credit where it is due.
“They’re a great basketball team and they came out with the win,” said the 33-year-old Puerto Rican, who finished with a game-high 33 points on 11-of-21 shooting, and had 12 rebounds.
The loss snapped the Beermen’s three straight wins and pulled them down to 3-4 (win-loss).
The San Miguel import though remains confident about the reigning champion’s playoffs chances, adding he doesn’t see the Beermen going as down as low as No. 7 or No. 8 team in the quarterfinal seedings.
The two lower seeds need to beat the top seed and No. 2 ranked team twice to advance.
“Even if I know the round-robin thing is done crazy, you got beat the team once or twice and they got to beat you once,” said Balkman, obviously referring to the quarterfinals format.
“We don’t get that far,” he added. “We’ll be okay going into it though, that’s my word.”