Balkman vows to provide leadership for Petron

By Camille B. Naredo,

Posted at Feb 07 2013 04:31 PM | Updated as of Feb 08 2013 12:31 AM

MANILA, Philippines – NBA veteran forward Renaldo Balkman plans to provide more than just scoring and defense when he takes the court with the Petron Blaze Boosters in the PBA Commissioners Cup.

The former New York Knick said on ANC's "Hardball" that he will be a veteran voice in the star-laden Petron squad that under performed in the previous conference.

"What I bring to the table is leadership and lots of energy," said Balkman, who at 6-foot-8 will be the shortest import to suit up this conference.

"We have a lot of scorers who can do a lot of things with the basketball. With me, I come out and play my role on defense. I'm not the type of guy who wants to score every time, and score 50 points," he added.

"My role on the court is to stop my man and get everybody else to... play hard-nosed basketball. That's the way I know how to play."

Petron had one of the best rosters in the PBA in the season-opening Philippine Cup, but they struggled with their chemistry and stumbled to a 6-8 record. They made the quarter-finals but were quickly eliminated by San Mig Coffee.

Balkman stressed that he wants to be the player to step up when the going gets tough for his team.

"For our team, that's what it's about. It's about leadership. (Before) nobody really stepped up to the plate and say, 'take it for what it is.' I'll take it," he said. "I'll show the other guys the leadership here and out on the court. It brings us all together."

Balkman had a fine start to his PBA career, leading the Blaze Boosters to the Sinulog Cup championship. But he also attracted attention from the Commissioner's Office after he got involved in a bench-clearing melee with the Alaska Aces.

"It was just emotion. We were going back and forth throughout the game, and it was a great game," Balkman said. "It happened, and it's over. We’re ready for the start on Friday."

The six-year NBA veteran said his strong play in the Sinulog Cup also answered questions about his fitness.

"A lot of people were saying I wasn't in game shape, but if you would've seen us playing in Cebu... I mean, it would have shown you if I was or not. And I think I am," Balkman said.

Petron will open their Commissioners Cup campaign against GlobalPort Batang Pier on Friday.