Just like Chris Ross, Renaldo Balkman suffered a gash during the second quarter of Game Three. And just like Ross, it only fired him up.
The 6-foot-8 Puerto Rican reinforcement was limited to just nine points on 4-for-9 shooting in the first half. But the gash he sustained on his left eyebrow was a catalyst, as he was unstoppable in the third frame, going 6-for-7 from the field for 13 points.
“It’s a war wound for me. Gotta keep on fighting man. I gotta lot of wounds but I’m alright,” recalled the 34-year-old.
But it was not just Balkman who lit up during the third frame, as Chris Ross caught fire as well, going 3-for-4 from downtown. Ross ended the night with 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting – bouncing back hugely from his 1-of-7 totals during the first two games of the series.
For his part, Balkman shared that he has been pushing Ross to do some extra drills during their sessions to work on his shooting. And it paid dividends, as San Miguel were able to rout Ginebra anew, 132-94, to gain the series lead.
“That’s what we practice,” quipped the 12-year pro. “I put him on the side and told him, ‘Hey, if they going leave you open, shoot.’
“He has been working on his shot. Practice makes perfect.”
And if Ginebra head coach Tim Cone continues to leave Ross open for the rest of the series, Balkman believes that it will be their downfall.
“I’mma tell you right now, they gotta figure it out. They gotta stop leaving him open because he is going to be deadly from that the three-point line. If he gonna keep him open I told him keep on shooting and he going back tomorrow and practice some more,” added Balkman.
Even if Balkman ended the night with 28 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and three blocks, he gushed that Ross was named as the Player of the Game – knowing the work the nine-year pro has been putting in.
“Sometimes, I wanna win the Best Player of the Game too, and I never do! That’s a little edge for myself too. Keep givng it to somebody else,” Balkman expressed.
“My guys, they deserve it you know that I mean.”