Mbala helping build new Taft tower in form of 67 Baltazar
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 14, 2016 08:30 PM
SHARPENING THE SAW. Defending Ben Mbala has, of course, taught rookie Justine Baltazar a thing or two about defending opposing big men.
It’s not just Jeron Teng whose confidence is sky-high all because of the paint presence of Ben Mbala.
With the rest of the field in the UAAP 79 Men’s Basketball Tournament already having so much trouble with Teng and Mbala, they would now have to take into account another nightmare courtesy of De La Salle University.
Up against revamped University of Sto. Tomas, first-year player Justine Baltazar only had two points. It was his other contributions, however, that caught the eye of just about everybody.
The six-foot-seven recruit from Nazareth School of National University picked off eight rebounds and five blocks in only 12 minutes on the floor. Talking about it after the game, it was just another day at work for him as he said, “Masipag naman kasi ako sa rebounds and blocks. Yun ang pina-practice ko talaga.”
Indeed, in a stacked lineup, the former UAAP Juniors Finals MVP doesn’t have to carry much of the scoring load, if at all.
Fortunately for him, Baltazar already has quite possibly the best foreign student-athlete to work with him in getting even better at rebounds and blocks. “Nag-iimprove ako kasi dinidepensahan ko si Mbala sa practice. Nakukuha ko ang kumpyansa ko sa kanya,” he said.
He then continued, “Sa practice pa lang against Ben, nahahasa na ako. Grabe talaga yung big man na yun.”
Coach Aldin Ayo only seconded what his prized prospect said. “Kung makikita niyo si Justine sa ensayo, malayo talaga. Kaya sinasabi ko lang sa kanya, just play your game kasi magaling talaga yung bata,” he expressed.
Now that he and just about everybody have seen just the tip of Baltazar’s potential, Ayo re-emphasized that he sees only even greater things. “Pinagdarasal ko kanina na sana makabutas na (siya) and for sure, dire-diretso nay an,” he said.
He then continued, “Although he’s a rookie, he’ll play a big role dito sa campaign namin.”
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