UAAP Basketball

‘All the respect in the world’: Baldwin tips hat to Gilas protege Baltazar’s effort

JR Isaga
‘All the respect in the world’: Baldwin tips hat to Gilas protege Baltazar’s effort

CHECKED. La Salle star Justine Baltazar goes cold against rival Ateneo's swarming defense.


Tab Baldwin applies his defensive game plan to great effect toward his former Gilas Pilipinas player Justine Baltazar as Ateneo blows out rival La Salle

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time since their days with Gilas Pilipinas, Justine Baltazar and Tab Baldwin found themselves on opposite ends of the court as Baldwin’s Ateneo Blue Eagles faced off against Baltazar and rival squad De La Salle Green Archers.

In their first match once more as parts of a legendary UAAP rivalry, it was Baldwin who got the upper hand as Ateneo methodically blew out La Salle, 74-57, and collectively held Baltazar to just 5 points on 2-of-10 shooting in over 35 minutes of action.

For the multi-titled UAAP tactician, their swarming defense on the 6-foot-7 pro-ready big man was nothing but a show of respect for his elite game.

“Balti was really tired at the end of the game. He played a lot of minutes and he played extremely hard… and there was no quit in him,” Baldwin said. “You know he’s going to say it wasn’t his best game, but he did all the things he had to do out there.”

“I just have all the respect in the world for him, and that’s why we play so hard against him and why we prepare so extensively against all their players, but especially him.”

Due to Ateneo’s tiptop game plan, Baltazar was checked and completely outclassed in the rivalry match by his Gilas teammate Ange Kouame, who blew up with 16 points and 19 rebounds in under 30 minutes of action.

Despite Baltazar’s off night, Baldwin has still all the confidence that his former national team ward can bounce back, and that his cold game was simply the byproduct of multiple Eagles stepping up to prevent him from getting into any sort of rhythm.

“I think there are no secrets. There are good coaches in this league, and we get a chance to scout each other. These are still young players. Balti has, like a lot of the top players in the UAAP, a great skill set,” Baldwin said.

“But you know when you’re exposed to these players over an extended period of time, I think the defense has the advantage if you play really smart and hard. Raffy (Verano) was a little bit outsized by Balti, but he plays so hard. Josh Lazaro is a lot longer, and played hard as well today.”

Like any player with superstar potential, Baltazar will surely just chalk this loss up to experience as he continues to hone his craft in the UAAP and beyond. –