UAAP Juniors Finals MVP Justine Baltazar is headed to Taft.
No less than new De La Salle Green Archers coach Aldin Ayo has confirmed to FOX Sports that Baltazar has already committed to play for them.
But whether Baltazar will suit up to form La Salle’s new twin tower with the hulking 6-7 Cameroonian Ben Mbala in Season 79 remains to be seen.
“Opo (sa amin na siya). Pero hindi ko pa sure kung eligible na siya,” Ayo told FOX Sports on Wednesday night. “At magde-depende pa rin kung paano mag-adopt sa system tsaka sa team chemistry.”
Baltazar is fresh off a dream ending to his high school career in the UAAP leading the Nazareth School of NU to the title against his future La Salle teammate and UAAP Juniors season MVP Aljun Melecio. The 6-foot-7 kid from Pampanga led the league in rebounds (13.5) and blocks (2.5) to go with his 13.4-point average easily making him the most sought after big man out of high school.
In high school, Baltazar was head and shoulders above the rest. It will be a different story in college.
“We need to polish his skills and make him ready physically,” said Ayo.
If eligible, Ayo said he intends to put him in the lineup right away to pair up with Mbala in what could be the most fearsome frontline in the UAAP next season.
“Malamang i-lineup (if eligible) kasi kulang kami sa mga ganoong spots,” Ayo said.
But while they have already bagged the top 2 high school prospects in Baltazar and Melecio, the ex-NCAA champion coach said it doesn’t automatically translate to a championship.
“Maganda ‘yung may materyales pero ang pinaka-importante ay kung paano (sila) mag-adopt sa system, kung gaano kataas ang basketball IQ tsaka kung gaano ka-motivated maglaro at manalo,” said Ayo. – By Alder Almo
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo