FIGHTING for playing time in a frontline as loaded as La Salle's has forced Justine Baltazar to reinvent himself and expand his game.
The result has been impressive.
Known primarily as a post player and a shot blocker during his time with the National University Bullpups, Baltazar now looks comfortable hitting mid-range jumpers and even extended his range by hitting the first three-pointer of his career against University of the East.
The 6-7 sophomore, who has slipped behind Ben Mbala and Santi Santillan in La Salle's center rotation, finished with 13 points on a perfect 6-6 shooting in just 13 minutes of action in the Green Archers’ 99-78 win over the Red Warriors.
“Tulad ng sinabi ni coach (Aldin Ayo), huwag kang mahiya tumira. Gawin ko lang yung part ko,” said Baltazar, who revealed that he’s been polishing his touch from beyond the three-point arc for three months now.
“Nage-extra work lang din ako. Mga three months na. Talagang pina-practice ko yun,” he added.
Though he’s shown major improvements in his game, the 20-year old said he isn’t rushing his progress and is actually willing to take a backseat for the meantime and learn from the likes of Ben Mbala and Santillan.
“Magic bunot lang siguro. Sinasabi lang ni coach na mag-ready lang ako kasi hindi naman pwedeng first quarter hanggang fourth quarter maglalaro si Ben. Kailagnan lang mag ready,” Baltazar said.
But Baltazar also knows that his time will come.
“Ready lang ako palagi. Ga-graduate din kasi si Ben. Kaya ayun, hintay ko lang.”