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    Tab: Baltazar having smooth transition to small forward position

    Jun 20, 2021
    PHOTO: fiba.basketball

    JUSTINE Baltazar played the center position for the most part of his young career, but was moved to small forward by Gilas Pilipinas to adapt to the international style of basketball.

    The La Salle product said he has become comfortable with his new role under head coach Tab Baldwin.

    “Matagal ko na kasi itong pinaghahandaan sa practice,” said Baltazar. “Sabi ni coach, kaya ko naman maging wingman so kailangan ko trabahuin para pagpasok sa court, medyo mataas ang height namin.”

    Baltazar had a near double-double on Friday against Indonesia with 11 points and nine rebounds in Gilas Pilipinas’ 76-51 victory. He is also gaining confidence from long range, hitting two of his five three-point attempts.

    Baldwin said Baltazar has made a smooth transition to the small forward spot on the offensive end, but admitted the 6-foot-10 forward is still a work in progress on the defensive side.

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      Baldwin sees Baltazar being comfortable guarding European players, and he could get a chance in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament when the Philippines goes up against Serbia.

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      “He is still trying to get used to guarding the smaller, quicker guys in Asia. But when we go up against the European players, they won’t have the jitterbug quickness that the Asian guards have. It will be more comfortable for him defensively. I don’t see any problems for him,” said Baldwin.

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      Baldwin is confident that whatever Baltazar is still lacking at this point of the training for Gilas, he will be able to make up for in the near future.

      “He is a smart player. He is a tough player. He is going to bulk up some more. He is going to get physically stronger. That’s going to present programs for the other teams and help him to match-upin the European theater when we get over there,” said Baldwin.

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      PHOTO: fiba.basketball
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