Renaldo Balkman’s lifetime ban is lifted although there is no clear picture as of yet on where he will play. Unless the unthinkable happens, the safest presumption right now is to see him land on one of the San Miguel Corporation squads.
But of the three teams, recently crowned PBA Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer is standing out as the likely destination. To recall, it is practically the same team where Balkman played for before that forgettable choking incident that led to his lifetime ban.
Barangay Ginebra will parade Shane Edwards, seen more as a temporary reinforcement while Justin Brownlee is playing for San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League. Ironically, Balkman and Brownlee are teammates on that squad.
Should Edwards falter, the obvious replacement is Brownlee. He is a perfect fit and has proven himself on countless occasions for the Gin Kings.
The Magnolia Hotshots have Vernon Macklin, another former Ginebra import. Most know what V-Mack can do so the chances of replacing him are pretty low.
The Beermen, on the other hand, will parade a new face in Troy Gillenwater. According to a report by Manila Bulletin Sports, the 29-year-old native of Boston was signed since original choice – Charles Rhodes – is still under contract playing for KCC Egis in the KBL.
Gillenwater is a 29-year-old, 6-foot-9 player who went undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft. His tenure with SMB lies heavily on how he can blend in with June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos and the rest. All that should be known once he plays his first game donning the SMB jersey.
Before the ban on Balkman was lifted, the belief was that Rhodes would eventually plane in to replace Gillenwater. However, sources reveal that there were some issues on his return and there is no word yet on whether all those were threshed out.
The landscape has obviously changed with Balkman ready to play at any moment. He is likely the first choice by the Beermen in case Gillenwater fails to deliver.
San Miguel does have the right to Balkman and it is unlikely that they would surrender that – at least for now. The 33-year-old has shown a lot of maturity and continues to put up monster performances over at the ABL.
With a powerful reinforcement like Balkman, it would be foolish to think that the SMB group would surrender their rights to him. Anything is possible moving forward although the chances of seeing him play for other teams are practically close to nil.