RENALDO Balkman is relishing his second chance in the PBA and with San Miguel Beer, promising to keep his emotions in check this time as he tries to complete unfinished business with the Beermen in the Commissioner’s Cup.
The controversial import attended his first practice with the Beermen on Wednesday – officially rejoining the Beermen after his ban was lifted five years after being slapped of the suspension following his choke incident with teammate Arwind Santos.
“I feel great. It’s great to be back in the PBA. It took a long time, but I’m here, and again,” said Balkman, who replaced Troy Gillenwater. “I’m trying to win another championship. That’s my main goal while I’m here.”
“Right now, it’s my first day of practice. I mean, there’s a lot of people saying what they want to say. There’s gonna be a lot of negativity, but I’m all positive right now,” he added. “It’s all positive vibes for myself, me and my teammates. I just wanna go out there and start winning games.
“I take every game one by one. And we’ll see what happens, you know?” he continued. “I just can’t listen to all the negative stuff that’s going on in the world, but I know it’s all positive right now.”
The 33-year-old former NBA player vowed to not get affected by the physicality unlike his last stint in the 2013 edition of the midseason tournament when a non-call on what he thought was a foul in their game against Alaska led to his outburst, and eventually friendly fire on Santos.
“I played in a lot of leagues, you know, and physicality is wherever you go,” Balkman said. “I mean, people say they’re gonna punch you, they’ll try to fight you and get into your head. It’s mind over matter for me, you know what I mean? It’s mind first, matter second.”
“So it’s like, Puerto Rico... I played in that league for several years, and it’s a lot of physicality too,” the former Puerto Rican national team player added. “So same thing, if you just play basketball and tune out the other stuff, you’ll be okay. You know what I’m saying? My motto is once I step into these four lines, I’ll leave everything off the court.”
Coming off a championship conquest in the Asean Basketball League with Alab Pilipinas, Balkman is eager to capture the same thing, this time with the Beermen in their title-retention bid – that will also keep their Grand Slam quest alive.
“Oh man, to be honest with you, there’s no pressure with me,” Balkman beamed. “You know, I’m just the type of guy who actually go out there and play basketball. If I’m here a week, or if I’m here three months, it doesn’t matter. I’m gonna come out there and do what I’m supposed to do.”
For now, Balkman is cherishing his comeback – something that not a few people thought would happen.
“I overcame a lot, and I’m here now, so moving on forward, it’s all positive for me,” Balkman said. “It’s a positive note that I’m here right now, because a lot of people didn’t think that I was gonna be here.”
“A lot of people had negativity, saying he’s never gonna play here again, he’d never suit up again in the PBA. And look, I’m here again,” he added.