Ever since he made his return to the PBA after a five-year ban, Renaldo Balkman has made it known that he has one goal: To keep the Commissioner’s Cup crown at San Miguel’s headquarters.
However, his odyssey didn’t end the way he wanted.
Balkman was visibly heartbroken on Wednesday night. He and the San Miguel Beermen had just lost to the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 77-93, in front of 20,490 people inside the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
And it wasn’t just any loss, either. The Beermen witnessed their reign as the kings of the Commissioner’s Cup come crashing down, no thanks to Justin Brownlee and eventual Finals Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson.
“I’m a little frustrated. Of course, I mean, you lost a championship game,” said Balkman, who had 24 points and 14 rebounds with three steals in the crushing defeat.
“But at the end of the day, you know, we can’t win ’em all.”
Wednesday was anti-climactic for the Beermen. Even if they started the conference slow, they were still heavy favorites to defend their throne owing to their vast experience and chemistry.
Balkman, however, isn’t letting this particular loss overshadow the ride he’s had. For the 34-year-old Puerto Rican, it’s still been a great year for him, considering that he had sat out a whole year last year due to a major knee injury.
“This whole year has been a great year for me. Period,” he said. “I sat out for a whole year, and I didn’t expect to play basketball due to my injury. But through the grace of God, He gave me another chance to play basketball again.
“At my age, I’m still playing at a high level.”
It’s safe to say now that Balkman’s redemption tour has yet to be completed. And if everything goes well for him for next season, the ASEAN Basketball League champion won’t hesitate with his reply.
“If I’m available next year, and they want me, of course I have no reason to say no,” said Balkman, who normed 24.5 points and 13.3 rebounds this Finals.
“If I do, it will be another great year for me to come back and redeem myself again.”