PBA lifts ban on Renaldo Balkman

MANILA, Philippines – After 5 years, the PBA lifted the lifetime ban on former Petron Blaze import and current Alab Pilipinas reinforcement Renaldo Balkman.

In a statement on the league's official website pba.ph on Tuesday, March 27, commissioner Willie Marcial announced that he has lifted the ban on the former Petron Blaze (now San Miguel) import.

Marcial said this decision was made in consultation with all concerned parties.

"He wrote a letter of appeal then personally appeared in my office," said Marcial. "But I didn't decide just based on that. I solicited the thoughts of Commissioner Chito [Narvasa] and Arwind Santos. Both gave their thumbs up for the lifting of the ban."

Balkman, the 20th pick of the 2006 NBA draft, was thrown out of the PBA in 2013 after infamously putting his former teammate Santos in a chokehold amid continuous arguing with officials during a game between Petron and Alaska.

Aside from the lifetime ban, Balkman was also slapped with a hefty P250,000 fine.

Five years later, Balkman made his return to Philippine basketball after being tapped as Alab's import in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).

He has since been remorseful over his previous actions and also expressed a desire to mend ties with Santos, who is still playing for the San Miguel Beermen and is currently in the middle of a championship run in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup. Balkman is also in the middle of a deep playoff run in the ABL for another San Miguel: Alab Pilipinas.

Narvasa also believes that Balkman can turn over a new leaf in the PBA. In the pba.ph statement, he said: "I trust that he has learned his lesson and has become a better person and a more disciplined athlete. Good luck to him."

Balkman can officially suit up for the PBA again as early as April 22, when the 2018 Commissioner's Cup tips off. – Rappler.com