It was a triumphant return for two high-profile imports who led the Zamboanga Valientes to the championship title of the VisMIn Cup Invitational tournament.
Renaldo Balkman and Mario Chalmers were the game-changers who carried the Valientes to a decisive 108-93 victory over crosstown rival Zamboanga Peninsula.
Balkman, who had teamed up with current Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Justin Brownlee in leading Alab to the Asean Basketball League championship five years ago, scored 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.
Meanwhile, Chalmers, who had won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat, tallied 18 points and made key contributions to the team’s success.
The Valientes had missed the services of Balkman and Chalmers in the past two games, but the two high-profile imports saved their best for last.
They were ably supported by former San Beda stalwart Jamest Kwekuteye, who added 11 points, and James Arthur, who contributed 10 markers.
The Valientes shot 13-of-37 from beyond the arc, producing 47 points from players coming off the bench – 28 points better than their rivals. They also had 19 points from turnovers committed by ZamPen and outscored their counterparts on fast break points, 37-27, in ruling the event headed by league commissioner Cris Bautista.
As expected, ZamPen was paced by its 1-2 punch, Mark Dolligon and import Henry Iloka, who combined for 46 points. Iloka, last season’s Best Import, also pulled down 23 rebounds.