MANILA, Philippines – Petron Blaze import Renaldo Balkman will be the shortest import suiting up for this season's PBA Commissioner's Cup, but the Boosters believe the former Denver Nugget is a "good fit" for their team.
The 6-foot-8 Balkman will be dwarfed by the other teams' imports, including Rain or Shine's 7-foot-2 reinforcement Bruno Sundov. Other imports checked in a 6-foot-10 or 6-foot-11 on the average.
But in an interview with Joaquin Henson of The Philippine Star, Petron assistant coach Gee Abanilla stressed that they have no problem with Balkman being undersized.
"He is a good fit for Petron," Abanilla told Henson. "He plays the three and four positions and is a complementary player to any guy."
Abanilla said Balkman is capable of playing center for the Boosters, with Arwind Santos at power forward and Jay Washington sliding to small forward.
The Petron coaching staff is also looking forward to seeing veteran leadership from the 28-year-old Balkman, who has previously played for the Nuggets and the New York Knicks.
"Rey's strength are in his defense and leadership," Petron head coach Olsen Racela told Henson. "He arrived early to get in better shape since his last tournament."
"He already showed that he can guard taller imports like Brian Williams of San Miguel Beer and (Justin) Williams of GlobalPort," Racela added.
Meanwhile, Abanilla said that Balkman "brings a lot of energy and hustle" to the team.
"He's a silent operator in terms of points. In our last practice game, he scored a quiet 19 points and (had) a lot of intangibles. I think he will get into better shape as we go along," he said.
"I think he's the leader-type that our team needs," Abanilla added.
The Blaze Boosters open their Commissioner's Cup campaign against GlobalPort on February 8 at the Araneta Coliseum.