The 2018 ABL Champions were recognized in a grand way as they were treated to a call-up and a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Nearly a month after winning the Philippines’ first regional title since 2013, the boys of Alab Pilipinas again celebrated their victory, this time with the head of state in the presidential residence.
Everyone from the players, and head coach Jimmy Alapag, even managers and assistant coaches, were all present in the momentous meet.
Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee were among the players present, both honored to meet the most powerful man in the country.
“It was unreal,” said Brownlee. “I feel so special being invited by the president and congratulated for representing the Philippines and winning the championship in the ABL. It feels really good.”
For Balkman, it has been quite a journey. Getting a second chance after being banned to play in the PBA years ago, meeting the Philippine president was just something he did not expect.
“Surreal,” said Balkman. “After everything I went through, now, I am being recognized by the most powerful man in the country. I feel blessed.”
The experience was special, noted Balkman.
"Today I was fortunate enough to meet with the president of the Philippines, along with my teammates. It was an amazing experience. Basketball has taken me in places I could have never dreamed of and experiences beyond belief. This is one of the those experiences for the memory Rolodex," the returning San Miguel Beer American reinforcement said in his Instagram post.