Sharpened by Gilas stint, Justine Baltazar looks make impact for Hiroshima
MANILA, Philippines — Justine Baltazar is eager to take his game to the next level in his first Japan B.League season with the Hiroshima Dragonflies.
The La Salle standout, who is already in Japan, attributed his Gilas Pilipinas experience to his vastly-improved game last UAAP Season 84 and he knows his overseas stint will only help him more.
“I expect that they will help me to learn more, to explore more of my basketball skills,” said Baltazar during his press conference on Monday.
“My experience and learnings with Gilas Pilipinas shaped me a lot and it will help me a lot to my new team here in Japan,” he added.
The 6-foot-9 forward promises to repay Hiroshima’s trust by giving his all in every B.League game as his club tries to rise from a 12th place finish, 29-28 record, last season.
“I will do my best as always to contribute to the team. I spoke before with Kiefer (Ravena) and he told me that our place will be really good,” Baltazar said. “I’ll just do my 100 percent every time I play. I always see to it that I put my heart in every game I play.”
Baltazar is set to make his B.League debut in October. But as early as now, he already express his commitment to stay in Hiroshima if the team would offer a contract extension.
“And if the team will renew and give me another chance, I would love to stay and play here for the Hiroshima Dragonflies,” the 25-year-old big man said.
“As long as there’s a good opportunity, it will help us explore and enhance our basketball skills. We will definitely love to spread and share our talents,” he added.
Eight Filipinos are seeing action in Japan this season including Kiefer Ravena of the Shiga Lakes, his brother Thirdy of San-En NeoPhoenix, Dwight Ramos of Levanga Hokkaido, and Ray Parks Jr. of Nagoya Diamond Dolphins.
Despite being away from his home country, Baltazar remains committed to the Gilas Pilipinas if he gets a chance to represent the country again.
“If they call and ask for my help, I’ll gladly participate with our Gilas team,” Baltazar said.
“They have been very supportive of my plans and decision. I’m grateful for their support,” he added.