Kai Ballungay

Kai Ballungay: Coming From ‘Winning Culture’ Is My Big Advantage

The former Blue Eagle, who has joined the Season 49 Rookie Draft, is ready to spread his wings in the PBA.

One of the players who has generated a lot of buzz in the PBA Season 49 Rookie Combine is the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ Kai Ballungay.

The 21-year-old possesses a skill set that can translate into a productive career in the PBA: height, length, athleticism, shooting touch. Among the 70 applicants, he came out as the second-tallest at six feet six and one-fourth inches, behind only presumptive top pick Justine Baltazar, who measured six-six and three-fourths. However, he knows that his height might not necessarily convert into a post-game in the pros.

“I’m trying to work on converting my game over to being a wing player,” he said. “So I think that’s going to help just my athleticism and size. I think it will work to my advantage playing at the wing.”

Ballungay’s athleticism is also remarkable, with a standing vertical jump of 37.4 inches and a running jump of 39.4

“Something I take pride in is my use of athleticism,” he told the media during the first day of the combine. “[It’s] something that I think really separates me from the other attendees in the draft. [It’s] something I’ve been working on, you know, continuously is my vertical, you know, getting faster on the court, working on my laterals.”

But if you ask Ballungay, his biggest asset is something that can’t easily be seen on the court.

“I think just coming from a winning culture. Playing for Ateneo and getting that experience of a championship-caliber team and being able to compete at the highest level, I think that’s something that’s going to work to my advantage.”

Ballungay is projected to go high in the draft, likely in the top five, with two coaches telling The GAME that they would pick him if he is still available. He also did well in two scrimmages, showing his outside shooting and moves around the basket.

It’s been great just to be out here, being with the coaches in attendance, being able to come out here and show our abilities. It’s definitely a blessing to be here and something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid.”

Ballungay said he has so far worked out for the Blackwater Bossing and Phoenix Fuel Masters and hopes to do so for more teams before Sunday’s draft.

“I got a few invites so far, but I’m looking to go out there soon.”

Ballungay played just two seasons with the Blue Eagles, winning a championship in UAAP Season 85, after a collegiate playing career with Stanislaus State in California.

“Just taking advantage of the opportunity. You know, as an athlete, you know, it was a short window just to maximize your priorities. Two great seasons with Ateneo.”

“I feel like that option [to play in the PBA] was always there. You know, after my second year at Ateneo, I wanted to consider everything that was on the table professionally, but I feel like PBA is the best fit at this time.”

Whatever happens on Sunday, Ballungay is ready to go.

“I like to go into every situation thinking that I have something to prove. So, you know, if people say that I’m a top-five pick, I’m a top-ten pick, you know, so be it. I’m always going to put in work and try to prove myself.”

Banner Image courtesy of the PBA Media Bureau.

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