MANILA, Philippines - Renaldo Balkman, the star import player who was banned from the Philippine Basketball Association, will be returning to the country as a member of the country's ASEAN Basketball League team.
The news was released on Twitter in the early hours of New Year's Day by player agent Sheryl Reyes, who revealed that Ginebra import Justin Brownlee will be also joining Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, and by team owner Charlie Dy in an Instagram post.
They will make their first appearance for the team on January 3 against Westports Malaysia Dragons at the Filoil Flying V Centre, Reyes says.
Surprise surprise for #TanduayAlabPilipinas welcome to my #teamreyes clients #brownlee #balkman thank you Charlie dy pic.twitter.com/xUClZq2sIZ — Sheryl Sanchez Reyes (@FemaleAgentSR) December 31, 2017
Balkman will be hoping to leave a better impression with Filipino fans than the last time he was seen playing on Philippine soil in March of 2013 as a member of the Petron Blaze Boosters. Balkman had been a standout for the franchise that now plays as the San Miguel Beermen, averaging 25 points and 13.4 rebounds, but all of that became an afterthought following an incident during a Commissioner's Cup game against the Alaska Aces.
After disputing a no-call, Balkman shoved referees, coaches and teammates, including Arwind Santos. When Santos pushed him back, Balkman choked him. The incident led to the former New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets player receiving a lifetime ban and a P250,000 fine from the league.
Balkman apologized for the incident afterwards and appeared on television with Santos to patch matters up publicly.
Reyes says Balkman had spoken of wanting to redeem himself from the incident.
"That’s why I convinced him to go [to] Alab," says Reyes.
The 33-year-old had a brief brush with Philippine basketball again in 2014 when Gilas Pilipinas played the Puerto Rico national team, which Balkman was playing for, in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Brownlee is among the most popular imports in the PBA today, helping Ginebra to two straight Governors' Cup titles.
Alab Pilipinas, which is currently in seventh place at 1-3, is led by coach Jimmy Alapag and counts notable names among its roster this season like Dondon Hontiveros, Bobby Ray Parks Jr and Rico Maierhofer. – Rappler.com