PBA commissioner Chito Salud promises to give Petron import Renaldo Balkman due process when he meets the former member of the Puerto Rican national team on to hear his side on the unfortunate choking incident that marred the Commissioner’s Cup game between the Boosters and Alaska Aces over the weekend.
Balkman will meet with Salud at 11:30 a.m. at the PBA office primarily to shed light on his sudden outburst in the waning seconds of a 73-83 lost game that saw him get involved in a shoving incident with teammates Ronald Tubid and Arwind Santos, whom he later choked in front of a horrified crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Let me say this, we will hear him out and give him a fair hearing,” said Salud, speaking in public for the first time about the controversy.
But that doesn’t mean the commissioner and the league won’t crack the whip on a misbehaving player, more so on an import playing on Philippine soil for just the first time.
“As I have said, he must have a very, very convincing explanation to the Filipino people on how he behaved that night. As host, our country deserves a very convincing explanation,” said the commissioner, who just like the rest of the basketball-loving Filipinos admits he himself is "stunned, and until now, still mystified."
Balkman already apologized to the entire Petron management, including to Santos and his family, over the incident.
Salud acknowledged the initiative made by the 28-year-old former New York Knick, but explained the audience Balkman had with Petron is far different from the audience in the office of the commissioner.
“My audience is far broader than just the teammates of Mr Balkman. As always, it is my responsibility to protect the interest of the league and shield it from violence and belligerent behavior,” he said.
Salud also reminded Balkman and the rest of the PBA players of their responsibility as role models especially to the youth.
“I’m just concerned about the kind of responsibility as role models our players have to our youth," he said. "I’m really concerned about that.”