Santos on reunion with Balkman: Awkward at first, but we're fine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) — San Miguel's newest reinforcement, Renaldo Balkman reunited with former Petron Blaze Booster teammate Arwind Santos in his first day of training with the Beermen.

The last time the two saw action together was during their stint with the Blaze Boosters back in 2013 where the Puerto Rican also served as the team's import in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner's Cup.

However,this alliance did not end so well between the two as they were caught in a controversial choking incident in a game against the Alaska Aces.

Following what he felt was a bad call by the referees, Balkman suddenly had an on court meltdown that led to him to shove referees, coaches and later on Santos who was only trying to calm him down.

The infamous incident led to the banning of the temperamental player from the PBA for life together with a ₱250,000 fine.

However, on March 27, 2018, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial officially overturned the lifetime ban imposed on Balkman after the latter expressed his apology regarding the 2013 mishap.

READ: PBA lifts lifetime ban on Renaldo Balkman

According to Marcial, he also sought the approval of former PBA Commissioner Chito Salud and Santos before granting the pardon.

The 6-foot-8 forward Balkman was immediately recruited by the San Miguel Beermen following the replacement of their original import for the Commissioner's Cup, Troy Gillenwater due to his disappointing performance.

READ: Balkman makes PBA comeback as San Miguel import

Their reunion was inevitable as the two finally faced each other again during team practice on Wedneday after five years.

Santos says he harbors no ill feelings against the 33-year-old player and considers the incident long forgotten although he admits to a little awkwardness as they reunite in San Miguel.

"Hindi ako nagtatanim ng galit. Nagkaka-ilangan lang ng una at naghihintayan kung sino yung mauuna pero okay na okay na kami."

[Translation: I don't harbor any anger. It will be awkward at first, but we're fine.]

"Ganun talaga minsan may mga taong hindi macocontrol mga emosyon nila pero tapos na yun."

[Translation: You can't control your emotions all the time, that's over.]

"Sana mas ma-perfect na namin yung samahan namin and makuha yung goal."

[Translation: I hope that we can perfect our bond here and achieve our goal.]

On the other hand, Balkman was quick to dismiss any negativity from his critics saying that he's moved on and grown tremendously since his last stint in the PBA.

The Puerto Rican said he comes from a place of positivity and his sole focus is to help the team in their bid for a defending title and grand-slam.

"Moving forward, it's all positive for me. It's a positive note that I'm here right now. A lot of people said that I'd never play here again, that I'll never suit up again in the PBA and look where I got, I'm here again," he said.

"I'm happy to be here and be a part of them right now. Their goal is to go out there and win, and that's my goal too so I'm going to bring the energy, the mentality and the physicality to the game."

Santos attests that his former Petron teammate has changed since their last encounter and has high hopes that he will provide the much-needed firepower to overcome their current 0-2 slump in the Commissioner's Cup.

"Ngayon si Renaldo nung dumating siya sobrang positive niya kumbaga positive energy ang pinapakita niya sa team namin so natutuwa ako doon."

[Translation: Renaldo immediately brought positive energy and I'm happy for that.]

"Yung position niya talagang kailangan namin. Sabi nga ng mga coaches, kailangan na mag sacrifice lalo na ako. Yung minuto ko malamang pwede siya na ang gumamit, pwede din kaming magkasabay pero number three position ako."

[Translation: His position is what what we really need. The coaches told me that I need to sacrifice my minutes. We can also play at the same time on the floor.]

 

In addition to the reconciliation of the two players, head coach Leo Austria also lauds his team for their earnest professionalism.

"That [incident] is already a thing of the past. They are all professionals especially Arwind, bilib ako sa kanya. Wala na isip niya yun because what he wants is to win another championship."

Balkman and Santos will see action once again as teammates on Saturday, May 19, against the Alaska Aces in Dumaguete City.