Fitting birthday gift for Balkman as San Miguel draws first blood vs Alaska
MANILA, Philippines – Renaldo Balkman's first game back in the PBA ended in a buzzer-beating loss to Alaska, so it was only fitting that his San Miguel Beermen toppled the Aces in their semifinals duel on another special occasion – his birthday.
Balkman had a double celebration on Saturday, July 14, as San Miguel drew first blood in their best-of-5 series against the Aces with a 92-79 win on the day he turned 34.
"It's always good when you get the win and celebrate your birthday at the same time," said Balkman, who finished with an all-around game of 13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and two blocks.
The Puerto Rican import, who returned to the league last May 19 since being slapped a lifetime ban in 2013, was given a rude awakening as Vic Manuel drained a game-winner to lift Alaska to a 105-103 win in an out-of-town game.
Not only did that loss put Balkman's 32-point, 13-rebound and 3-steal effort to waste, it also kept the Beermen winless in their first 3 games.
But Balkman said the loss, and everything else in the past, are way behind them, especially when their goal is to defend their Commissioner's Cup championship.
"We’re not looking to the past. We’re looking to the future," he said.
"I’m really motivated to get to the Finals, of course, but we got two more left. We got to get to the next one. We’ll get it though. We got to stick to the game plan."
Game 2 is already on Monday, July 16, at the Araneta Coliseum and the former NBA player is still not on a celebratory mood.
"I’ll save my celebration later this year when I get a couple days off, when I’m not playing basketball. What counts right now is winning a championship."
"Everybody says happy birthday to me. Great win for us and it’s a great day for me," Balkman added. – Rappler.com