MANILA, Philippines – Former La Salle star center Justine Baltazar has officially signed with the Japan B. League’s Hiroshima Dragonflies on Thursday, May 26 – confirming earlier reports and rumors that he has overseas opportunities waiting for him after college.
The 25-year-old recently ended his UAAP career as the Season 84 MVP runner-up with stellar averages of 12.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 block.
He led the Green Archers to another Final Four berth before falling to the eventual champion UP Fighting Maroons.
Moving his pro career forward after a short stint with the Philippines’ National Basketball League (NBL), Baltazar is now expected to give Hiroshima a steadying presence at the Asian Player Quota spot, especially after the squad’s up-and-down season where it finished with a 29-28 record.
The 6-foot-7 big man is set to join fellow Gilas Pilipinas stalwarts Thirdy Ravena of the San-En NeoPhoenix, Ray Parks of the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, and ex-Toyama import Dwight Ramos, now of the Levanga Hokkaido.
Five other Filipinos recently had stints with the B. League like Kiefer Ravena and Kobe Paras, but do not have live contracts at the moment. Meanwhile, Javi Gomez de Liaño, formerly of the league’s Ibaraki Robots, has since gone back home to play for the PBA.
Baltazar recently explored his post-college options after throwing in his name for the PBA Season 47 Draft, but withdrew shortly before the event, where he was expected to be a surefire top three pick. – Rappler.com