RENALDO Balkman’s roll keeps going and so does Petron Blaze’s.
Balkman scattered a game-high 33 points and pointed the Boosters to a cruising 91-78 victory over Barako Bull Sunday that was Petron’s fifth straight in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Arwind Santos, Ronald Tubid and June Mar Fajardo provided ample support and enabled Petron head coach Olsen Racela to go one-up over former co-head coach and team consultant Rajko Toroman, who currently calls the shots for Barako Bull as active consultant.
“The thing with coach Rajko, it’s all about execution,” said Racela. “It’s about how to set screens, timing, everything. In this game it helped that my players know his plays. But he ran different plays throughout this game.”
Disrupting those Energy Cola plays most was Balkman, who pulled off four of the Boosters seven steals while adding 14 rebounds and four assists in a sterling all-around effort.
Understandably, Racela can’t say enough about the dreadlocked Puerto Rican-American. “That’s how a great a defender Rey is,” he said.
“He can defend all positions. He has great instincts, that’s why he got a lot of interceptions. Like I’ve said before, he’s the catalyst, the leader of this team, especially on the defensive end. His intensity and energy rubbed off on all his teammates.”
“That’s just how I am,” said the former New York Knick, who is the shortest import now at 6-foot-6.
“I play every game like it was my last. If I can get my teammates going then I get going, too. I maybe the shortest but I’ve got the biggest heart. For me, it’s all about winning. I’m the type of person who wants to get it going, that defense eschews to offense.”
The loss was the second straight and third in six games overall for Barako, notwithstanding the 20 points, second conference-best 24 rebounds and four blocked shots by Evan Brock, one of those swats against Balkman.
Save for the 17 points of former San Miguel player Danny Seigle and the 12 of Sean Anthony, the other Energy Cola failed to provide the much-needed support. Mick Pennisi could have helped but was reportedly in a hospital due to an unspecified illness.
Top Barako Bull local scorer Josh urbiztondo was held to just six points, 11 below his average, after being stymied by the defense anchored on Tubid.
Balkman had plenty of help as Santos added 14 points while Fajardo and Tubid combined for 20 points and 14 rebounds in the victory that was fashioned more easily than a 60-53 win over Air21 last Friday.
But not after some queasy moments that saw Barako Bull whittle what was once a 25-point deficit to just 12, the last at 68-76.
It was Balkman as expected to the rescue as he completed a three-point play and Tubid knocked in a triple and completed a four-point play off Allein Maliksi to make it an irrepressible 86-68 count, only 2:47 left.
That last triple gave Tubid entry into the 5,000 Points Club, where he is now its 66th member. He was however only the ninth to accomplish it in a San Miguel Beer or Petron Blaze uniform.
A good glimpse of the victory was had as early as the second period before taking full shape in the third.
Santos fired nine of his points and Balkman seven during Petron’s sustained charge from a 45-27 halftime lead and gave the Boosters their biggest lead at 66-41, 2:26 left in the penultimate quarter.
Prior to that, Balkman also spearheaded a massive 20-5 exchange which had Joseph Yeo, Marcio Lassiter, Santos and Dorian Pena as supporting cast that plucked Petron from a tight 25-22 count. (NC)
PETRON BLAZE 91 – Balkman 33, Santos 14, Fajardo 10, Tubid 10, Lassiter 6, Miranda 4, Pena 4, Lanete 3, Yeo 3, Washington 3, Sison 1, Faundo 0.
BARAKO BULL 78 – Brock 20, Seigle 17, Anthony 12, Maliksi 9, Urbiztondo 6, Macapagal 5, Allado 5, Villanueva 4, Weinstein 0, Kramer 0, Intal 0.
Quarterscores: 21-16, 45-27, 68-47, 91-78