Renaldo Balkman is officially back.
The Puerto Rican forward, who’s fresh from a fruitful campaign with Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League, practiced with San Miguel earlier this morning ahead of the team’s game against Alaska on Saturday at Dumaguete.
For head coach Leo Austria, his arrival couldn’t have come at a better time after the team dropped their first two games in the Commissioner’s Cup.
And the best part about Balkman coming to town is that there won’t be any concerns about his fitness since he’s practically healthy and ready to suit up.
“He’s really in shape. He’s the perfect import to have after mawala ‘yung (si Troy Gillenwater)” Austria said in a phone call with FOX Sports PH.
Adjustments will be key, though, and the multi-titled head coach acknowledged that the 33-year-old still has a lot of work to do when it comes to assimilating into the system.
Nonetheless, Austria is optimistic that it won’t be a lengthy and tedious process for both sides since Balkman himself is a smart player.
“Madali lang naman para sa kanya, pero syempre may period of adjustment,” he said regarding the import’s integration. “His basketball IQ makes it easy for him to adapt into a new system, but of course once you’re new you really have to adjust.”
San Miguel’s lineup was already formidable heading into the conference, but the ABL champion’s return to the PBA makes them an even bigger favorite.
Balkman, who primarily plays the forward positions, could alternate with Christian Standhardinger and June Mar Fajardo at the four and five positions owing to his versatility.
Austria is aware of this fact, and he said that these options will unravel as the conference moves forward.
“Natural na position muna ilalaro nila,” the coach revealed. “Right now, ‘di pa namin makita ng buo ang advantage and we’re still figuring out kung saan sila magf-function best.”