Renaldo Balkman is finally reunited with the San Miguel Beermen after five years.
Coming off a championship run with the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), Balkman is now on hand to help the defending champions arrest a shaky 0-2 start in the Commissioner's Cup.
The 33-year-old Puerto Rican is ready to leave the past behind and is set on helping the Beermen defend their title.
"Everybody calls it a second chance. It's just another job for me. I've been playing all over the world throughout my career. You know, I did what I did, in earlier years when I was young. But you know, I'm a little older now, and since then, I've had several jobs," said Balkman, who practiced with the Beermen Wednesday.
"I go out there and look into the future. I don't look into the past. And like I said, the main goal here is for us to win another championship. And that's what I'm here for. They've seen something in me that was positive, and they picked me," he said.
Meanwhile, Arwind Santos said he hasmoved on from what happened between them.
"Like I said before, everybody deserves a second chance. I don't hold grudges," Santos said. "It's going to be awkward at first for sure, but we're good."
Wednesday's practice was the first time the two met since Balkman was hit with a lifetime ban from the PBA. Santos said his reunion with Balkman began with a smile.
"He was smiling when he arrived at practice. He showed the team a lot of positive energy. And I was happy about that," Santos said.
Balkman saw another familiar face in practice in Christian Standhardinger. The two played against each other in the ABL and Balkman is looking forward to joining forces with Standhardinger.
"We were warriors before, going at each other, and now we're teammates. So it's another one of them teammates where you say, 'Man, look. The past is the past, let's go out there together, and try to do something together,'" said Balkman. "We both got similar games, and him on one side and me on the other side, it's gonna be hard for a lot of teams. We got energy, and sometimes you can't teach a player that. That's what they gotta watch out for from us."
A lot has changed from the time Balkman was with then Petron Blaze Boosters. The play in the PBA has gotten more physical since he left, but Balkman said he isn't worried.
"I played in a lot of leagues, you know, and physicality is wherever you go. I mean, people say they're gonna test you, people say they're gonna punch you, they'll try to fight you and get into your head. It's mind over matter for me, you know what I mean? It's mind first, matter second," said Balkman. "If you just play basketball and tune out the other stuff, you'll be okay."
"My motto is once I step into these four lines, I'll leave everything off the court, I'll leave it off the court when I step in between these four lines, it's time to go out there and win the game and be positive, whatever I need to do," he said.
Balkman has three days to learn coach Leo Austria's system before they face Alaska in Dumaguete on Saturday. There doesn't appear to be any worries that he can acclimate quickly.
"Renaldo Balkman has played on so many teams, he keeps on adjusting to whatever team he plays on," said Austria. "It's easy for him to adjust to our system. But of course, there's a period of adjustment. Right now, we can never know what will happen in our next game but as far as my knowledge is concerned with him, it's easy for him to make some adjustments."
But if you ask Balkman, he's more than prepared to play for San Miguel and showcase his style of play in front of Filipino fans again.
"We got a game on Saturday, and I'm gonna give you guys another show," he said. "Like I told y'all before, it's showtime for me."