MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Basketball Association, citing “a culture of accountability,” banned Petron import Renaldo Balkman for going ballistic during the Petron-Alaska clash last Friday that was watched live on TV and went viral on the internet.
Upholding the tenets of accountability and the overall interest of the league and the fans, Salud came down hard on Balkman while assessing the erring Petron reinforcement a fine of P250,000 for his grave misconduct that shocked the big crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and those who watched the game on TV.
“Stiff as it maybe, this decision upholds the tenets of contextual accountability and the overall interest of the league and the fans,” said Salud. “I do encourage passion for the game but I also want to firmly instill a culture of accountability among our players.
If one does something that violates the rules and the norms of sportsmanship and decent behavior, he will be made accountable.”
Salud didn’t go easy on Balkman even as the former New York Knick and Denver Nugget issued a public apology in a meeting with the commissioner in the PBA office in Libis, Quezon City yesterday noon.
Balkman thus became the first import in 15 years to be barred for life from the country’s premier pro league.
Even Arwind Santos, grabbed in the neck by Balkman at the height of his rage, was present.
Salud dealt Balkman the PBA ban “for initiating threatening physical contact with a referee followed by a prolonged offensive, belligerent if not aberrant on-court decorum directed toward game officials and his Petron teammates and superiors, including the head coach and assistant coaches, amounting to blatant and utter disrespect for the game, his own ball club, the league, the fans and his host country.”
“In arriving at this decision, I took into consideration Balkman’s track record as a player, including a head-butting incident during a FIBA America’s game between Puerto Rico and Venezuela and his altercation with the bench of the Alaska Aces during a pre-season game in Cebu,” said Salud.
“I also took into consideration Balkman’s evident disregard for local and the host country’s sensibilities highlighted by his choking act on-court in full public view of his own teammate who was trying to pacify him,” Salud also said.
Frustrated over his worst game of the tournament against the Aces, where he struggled for just six points after averaging 28 in his first six outings, Balkman lost his cool after being called for a foul late in the game and confronted the referees.
Teammates and Petron coaches, including Melchor Ravanes, tried to calm him down to no avail. Balkman then got into a shoving match with Petron co-captain Arwind Santos, whom he tried to choke at the height of his rage.
Thus, the Petron Blaze Boosters lost the import who powered them to a 5-2 (win-loss) record in the first half of their elimination-round schedule.
Petron, playing Rain or Shine in Panabo, Davao del Norte on Saturday, has got a list of possible import replacement, including former Barako Bull reinforcement Rodney White.
Until that fateful Friday game, Balkman was the tournament scoring leader.
Jojo English was the last import barred from returning to the PBA for reneging on a contractual obligation with Sta. Lucia Realty in 1998.
Others banned for life were Derrick Hamilton (Pepsi), Ronnie Thompkins (Swift), Kelvin Upshaw (Shell) and Andrew Moten (San Miguel Beer)). Hamilton, Thompkins and Upshaw were sacked for illegal drugs and Moten for utter disrespect to league officials and the league itself.