(UPDATE) PBA Commissioner Chito Salud came down hard on erring Petron Blaze import Renaldo Balkman, banning him from the league and fining him P250,000 for his outburst near the end of the Blaze Boosters' 73-83 loss to Alaska Friday night.
The decision, which came after a lengthy meeting with Balkman and Petron officials at the PBA office, was announced at around 3:00PM.
In an official statement, Salud noted that Balkman initiated a “a 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 a blatant and utter disrespect for the game, his own ballclub, the league, the fans and his host country.”
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Salud also took into serious consideration Balkman’s previous behavior including “the head-butting incident during a FIBA-Americas game between Puerto Rico and Venezuela and his altercation with the bench of the Alaska Aces during a pre-season game in Cebu City.”
Although the decision is clearly one bitter pill to swallow for the Boosters, Salud stressed that it’s for the “over-all interest of the league and the fans.”
“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. The value of accountability is important for me to uphold at all times. I think it is key to this league's continued success, the development of our players' maturity and to their role as models to our fans, especially the youth,” he added.
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It is believed to be the biggest fine meted out on an import in the league's 38-year existence. Jsut last season, barako Bull's Don Allado was slapped a P500,000 fine and a one-conference ban for going on a tirade against the league on Twitter.
In a show of support, the entire Blaze Boosters team, led by head coach Olsen Racela, accompanied Balkman to his meeting with Salud.
“We're here as a family in support for Rey,” Racela said. “He's been with us the past two months. We know the kind of person he is."