It looks like a second chance is now on the horizon for Renaldo Balkman, as the PBA has just lifted its lifetime ban on the Puerto Rican reinforcement, as per the statement released by the league on Tuesday afternoon.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial gave Balkman a reprieve, five years after his banishment from the local pro league for an outrage during a Petron Blaze Boosters-Alaska Aces bout, when he choked teammate Arwind Santos.
“He wrote a letter of appeal then personally appeared in my office. But I didn’t decide just based on that. I solicited the thoughts of Commissioner Chito Salud and Arwind Santos,” said the amiable league executive.
“Both gave their thumbs up for the lifting of the ban,” he added.
“I trust that he has learned his lesson and has become a better person and a more disciplined athlete. Good luck to him,” said Salud, for his part.
Salud, then the league’s commissioner, issued the lifetime ban over the incident. The former NBA cager with the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets was also slapped a fine of P250,000 for his flagrant misconduct.
But Balkman has shown remorse, repeatedly expressing deep regrets for his action.
The 6-foot-8 forward is currently playing for Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League — where he is currently averaging 23.0 points and 10.8 rebounds — and surely hopes a second chance in the PBA.
“Balkman was apologetic and gave assurance for his behaviour on and off the court. He has matured since the incident now that he’s 33,” said Marcial.
The reprieve has opened the door for Balkman’s possible PBA comeback as early as the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup that fires off on April 22. The San Miguel Beermen still enjoy the rights of first refusal on Balkman.