LA Salle coach Derrick Pumaren is convinced they have a certified star in the making.
Green Archers center Justine Baltazar’s stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the second window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers should do wonders for the team, according to Pumaren.
“I’m happy and proud with the way he played despite him being a first timer playing for Gilas,” Pumaren told Malaya-Business Insight.
“He showed what he can do and also will learn from this experience,” he added.
The 6-foot-8 beanpole proved his worth in his maiden appearance with Gilas in the qualifiers held in a bubble in Manama, Bahrain.
Baltazar came up with 12 points and pulled down six rebounds in the nationals’ 93-61 shellacking of pro-backed Thailand last Nov. 27.
He had 11 boards and two points as the all-amateur Gilas crew completed an emphatic sweep of the Thais with a runaway 93-69 victory in Group A last Nov. 30.
Baltazar’s experience suiting up in international play will come in handy for La Salle’s bid in the 83rd UAAP basketball tournament, according to Pumaren.
“He will be able to bring the experience he gained with Gilas,” Pumaren said.
“That will really benefit our team.”
Former University of Santo Tomas prized playmaker and reigning Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy and guard Deo Cuajao moved to the Archers from University of Santo Tomas amid the Sorsogon bubble controversy last Sept. 15.
Prized playmaker Evan Nelle also transferred from San Beda University to the Taft-based five, although he will serve the required one-year residency before he can suit up like Nonoy and Cuajao.