Baltazarís shoes in NU being filled by 15-year-old Amsali

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 29, 2016 04:54 PM
Baltazarís shoes in NU being filled by 15-year-old Amsali
NEXT MAN UP. Slowly but surely, 15-year-old Rhayyan Amsali is taking on more and more responsibilities for NU.

Once Justine Baltazar graduated from Nazareth School of National University, the reins of leadership were rightfully handed over to John Lloyd Clemente.

However, there remained a matter of how to fill the void his six-feet seven-inch, 180 lbs frame left behind.

Or so we thought.

The defending champions have not skipped a beat as Baltazar’s touches have been transferred to the more than capable hands of Rhayyan Amsali.

And belying his youth, the 15-year-old is averaging 13.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.3 steals.

If it seems like the former Finals MVP never left for the Bullpups, it’s because Amsali has made it a point to emulate him. “Yung mga seniors ko dati, sina kuya Justine, pinapanood ko yung good attitude nila tapos ginagaya ko,” he said.

What sets him apart from Baltazar, however, is that NU’s new man in the middle can go inside-out as much as his six-foot-four frame pleases. He has a sweet stroke as evidenced by his 58 percent shooting as well as a penchant for making plays as his three assists per game would suggest.

As it turns out, Amsali didn’t start out balling as a big man. As he shared, “Nung una kasi, point guard nilalaro ko nung nandun pa ako sa Zamboanga. ‘Di ko aakalain na tatangkad ako nang ganito.”

He then continued, “Natuto na lang akong mag-big man nung 2013, nung pumuna na akong NU.”

Of course, the youngster is yet to even come close to Baltazar’s level as a defensive enforcer. The good news is that is exactly what he’s working on as he said, “Si coach Jeff, yung defense dun talaga siya magaling. Yun yung kailangan ko kasi goal ko na maipakitang kumpletong player ako.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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