In his first two seasons with the team, the 6’7 big man hardly got to see substantial playing minutes. This, despite coming off an outstanding high school career with National University in which he led the team to the championship and was named finals MVP. The reason was understandable of course as the team had Ben Mbala. With Ben no longer around, it’s now his turn to be the main man in the middle.
And he is certainly making the most of the opportunity.
Baltazar is currently averaging 13.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per contest. He has been a constant presence down low on both ends, protecting the rim while showing his versatility on offense. No only he can score inside, he has also extended his range beyond the arc. In their match against NU last week, he hit a baseline jumper with 2 seconds left in the shot clock which enabled the Green Archers to pull off a come-from-behind win.
With rookie Taane Samuel sidelined, the more is expected from him to deliver. And it appears he is ready for the challenge
“Trabaho lang kami sa training, at saka sa game,” the soft-spoken Baltazar said after their win over UE, which gave them a share of second place. “Sabi ni coach, huwag kaming mag-relax kahit UE kalaban namin.”
La Salle coach Louie Gonzalez fully expected Baltazar to shine in Season 81 and the coach is thrilled that the big man is responding to the challenge given to him.
“Ngayon, china-challenge ko siya. Noong January pa lang, and now na talagang nailagay na siya sa limelight, it’s a change of lifestyle for him,” said Gonzalez. “It can’t be only na naglalaro siya ng basketball – he also has to take care of himself, and he has to take care of his nutrition, rest, and image.
“I know this kid was just waiting for his time. And this is his time.”
Patience and hard work is indeed paying off for him. After two seasons, It’s Balti’s time to shine