Christian Standhardinger started his PBA debut on the wrong foot, losing back-to-back games against Meralco and Rain or Shine as the defending champion San Miguel Beermen opened their title defense with a 0-2 record.
While the losses can be attributed to the fact that the Beermen are still going through an adjustment period with the entry of Standhardinger and import Troy Gillenwater, the latter’s so-so performance was more evident especially during the loss to the Elasto Painters.
Gillenwater was thrown out of the game during the 2nd period for bumping referee Rey Yante while he was on the way to the team’s bench after incurring his 4th foul.
The 6-foot-8 American was slapped by the PBA with a P20,000 fine and was immediately sent home by the Beermen.
Taking his place is former Petron import and 2018 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) Co-Defensive Player of the Year Renaldo Balkman.
Balkman was assessed a lifetime ban 5 years ago by then commissioner Chito Salud for choking teammate Arwind Santos and going berserk against team officials. The ban, however, was lifted just recently by league top honcho Willie Marcial after the 33-year old Puerto Rican wrote an appeal and personally appeared before the commissioner.
Marcial bared that he first consulted with Santos and Salud before making his decision.
With the ban lifted and the ABL season over, Balkman has now returned to settle some unfinished business.
“It’s gonna be great. He’s bringing in a lot of experience and that’s always good. I hope we can win more games with him,” said Standhardinger on joining forces with his former ABL rival.
Balkman will make his debut for the defending champions against the Alaska Aces on Saturday, May 19 in Dumaguete City.