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Justine Baltazar’s PBA debut hinges on Gov Delta’s decision amid Pampanga campaign

Justine Baltazar doesn’t know yet whether or not he will be immediately joining whichever team picks him in the upcoming PBA Season 49 Rookie Draft.

The presumptive No. 1 pick is still awaiting the decision of Pampanga Gov. Dennis ‘Delta’ Pineda as he remains under contract with the Giant Lanterns in the ongoing 2024 MPBL season, which won’t finish until the first week of December.

“Hinihintay ko ‘yung desisyon ni Gov,” he told reporters during the first day of the Season 49 Draft Combine, Wednesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

“Kasi ang sinasabi niya sa akin talaga, parang tatapusin ko ‘yung MPBL kasi may kontrata ako,” added the 6-foot-8 winger out of La Salle.

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Baltazar and the defending MPBL champions are currently sitting at no. 2 in the team standings, having won 15 of their 16 games thus far.

The former Gilas stalwart has been a major factor behind their strong showings with norms of 14.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 6.1 assists.

For him, having spent the last two seasons in ‘MP’ has helped him regain his confidence – thus the decision to join the PBA Draft again, two years after he pulled out at the last minute to sign with Hiroshima of the B.League.

“Last year kasi, hindi pa ‘ko healthy. Kasi hindi ako masyado nakapaglaro overseas,” he said.

“Kumuha ako ng kumpiyansa nga rito sa MPBL, hanggang sa ito, parang bumabalik na rin ‘yung laro ko … Ready na talaga ako.”

Fans and pundits alike project that Converge will take Baltazar as the no. 1 pick given the franchise’s ties with Gov. Pineda.

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However, the soft-spoken cager said that he’s just preparing for whatever happens come draft day.

“Tingnan natin sa Draft sa July 14,” offered the 27-year-old from Mabalacat, the reigning MPBL Most Valuable Player.

“Pine-prepare ko rin ‘yung sarili ko. Tingnan ko kung tatapusin ko ‘yung MPBL, o maglalaro na ako [matapos] nitong Draft na ‘to sa PBA,” he added.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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