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Tiebreaker Times


From Villain to Hero: Renaldo Balkman goes full circle thanks to Jimmy Alapag

With less than 30 seconds remaining in Game Five of the 8th ASEAN Basketball League Finals, Renaldo Balkman was subbed out. On the sidelines, head coach Jimmy Alapag was waiting for him, to give his reinforcement a big hug.

As this happened, the jampacked venue cheered Balkman wildly — a far cry from the last time he was here back in 2013, when he was jeered out of the venue.

The Puerto Rican World Import helped the Philippines end its five-year title drought in the ABL on Wednesday, powering San Miguel Alab Pilipinas past Mono Vampire BC, 102-92.

Balkman was unstoppable in the clincher, producing 32 points on 50 percent shooting on top of nine rebounds, six assists, and two steals in over 38 minutes of action.

From villain to hero, indeed.

But for him, all of this will never be possible if it were not for Jimmy Alapag, whom he he had a chance to talk to back in 2014, when their paths crossed in Spain for the FIBA World Cup.

“It’s been five years since I last played here. I didn’t think I was coming back. I was still contemplating on my career. I got a phone call one day, and it was Jimmy,” Balkman recalled.

“Out of the blue. He’s like, ‘come play, man.’ I’m like, ‘I’m on my way,” the 33-year-old forward added with a grin.

“That was a dream come true for me.”

What makes Balkman grateful is the fact that the PBA legend is a man of his word. According to him, even if years had gone by since their conversation in Spain, Alapag has never forgotten his promise.

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“One thing about him is he’s a man of his word,” said the former NBA cager. “He told me that four years ago if he gets a job as a head coach, ‘I’mma bring you to play’, and he kept his word.

“Thank you, Jimmy.”

The ABL season has now wrapped up, and the players surely have other plans — Balkman included. But the veteran journeyman has yet to come up with his plans as he plans to celebrate first.

“We gonna see in a week or so. Let’s see what happens next and we’ll go from there.”

Maybe a PBA return won’t be a bad idea.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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