Justine Baltazar admits battles with Ben Mbala in practice hasten his maturity process
Justine Baltazar had just two points, but made his presence felt in the paint with eight rebounds and five blocks for La Salle. Jaime Campos

LA Salle rookie Justine Baltazar bared that going up against Ben Mbala in practice had a lot to do behind his best game so far in UAAP Season 79 on Wednesday.

In just his third game in the college ranks, the 6-foot-7 Baltazar proved a massive presence in the paint with eight rebounds and five blocks to go with his two points in La Salle’s 100-62 win over University of Santo Tomas.

A former juniors star at National University, Baltazar said having to practice with Mbala day in and day out is helping him adjust well to the physicality of college ball.

“Grabe po kasi si Mbala,” said the 19-year-old Baltazar. “Talagang mahahasa talaga ako dun kasi hindi na talaga katulad ng high school. Malaking tulong po talaga.”

Baltazar’s performance made up for his play in his first two games, which he admitted were unimpressive.

“Kasi ‘yung first two games ko, pangit laro ko. Ngayon medyo maganda. ‘Yung pina-practice namin, nadala ko sa game,” Baltazar said.

Baltazar also said he has gained confidence from La Salle head coach Aldin Ayo as the Green Archers won their third game in as many outings.

“Sinabi lang ni coach na playing as a team at mag-trabaho lang,” said the former high school standout from Pampanga. 

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