THERE’S no longer any doubt – Justine Baltazar will stay with La Salle to play in his final season once the UAAP resumes.
La Salle coach Derrick Pumaren confirmed Baltazar will be available for the Green Archers for the resumption of the UAAP, which is targeting a 2022 return for its Season 84.
“Justine committed he will play his final year with La Salle,” said Pumaren in an SMS message.
SPIN .ph learned Baltazar has already joined the team’s buildup for next season after the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) gave college teams the green light to resume training under strict protocols.
Baltazar's decision to stay at La Salle quashest talk that the big man could potentially head to the Japan B.League, being one the top young bigs of the country following his exposure with Gilas Pilipinas in Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers.
Baltazar was even being groomed to play for the NBL Pilipinas pro team Pampanga Delta, a squad owned by Pampanga governor Dennis Pineda, whose basketball program aided Baltazar's development.
Baltazar skips PBA draft
The 6-foot-8 Baltazar also skipped the PBA Season 46 draft in a class where he would have possibly been at least in the top three.
Pumaren also confirmed that Baltazar will honor his Gilas Pilipinas commitments while at La Salle. The national squad is slated to see action in Fiba Basketball World Cup 2023 qualifiers where the team will begin its campaign on February.
In an interview with SPIN.ph’s Randolph Leongson, Baltazar expressed his desire to play for flag and country after he skipped the PBA draft.
"Dito muna ako sa Gilas habang wala pang liga,” said Baltazar in an interview last January.
Baltazar averaged 15.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks in 2019 (Season 82), the last time the UAAP was held.
Season 83 of the league was cancelled due to the pandemic.
We are now on Quento! Download the app to enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.