By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Japan B. League-bound Justine Baltazar is certainly a household name in the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team.
However, due to a hectic schedule in preparation for his debut season with the Hiroshima Dragonflies, the former De La Salle University Green Archers superstar already missed several Gilas scheduled games including the August window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Baltazar then announced during his formal presentation with the Dragonflies that playing for the country is still his top priority.
If ever the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) calls him up for the next set of international games, Baltazar vowed he will make himself available this time.
“If they call and ask for my help, I’ll gladly participate with our Gilas team. My experience and learnings with Gilas Pilipinas shaped me a lot, and will help me a lot to my new team here in Japan,” said Baltazar.
Previously, the B. League expressed its support to all Filipino Asian imports who will have to fly home and represent their national team.
This is evident in how they allowed Kiefer & Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos to go home to the Philippines and be with the team during the previous FIBA windows.
The same rule applies to Baltazar as he will also play in the B. League under the Asian Quota player classification.
Baltazar already formalized his one-year contract with the Dragonflies and is expected to immediately make an impact to the team.
“If the team will renew and give me another chance, I would love to stay and play here for the Hiroshima Dragonflies. I’ll do my hundred percent every time I play. I always see to it that I put my heart in every game I play,” added Baltazar.