By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
So it’s official. Justine Baltazar is headed to the Japan B. League.
After a shocking no-show during the 2022 PBA Rookie Draft workout combine, De La Salle University Green Archers superstar Justine Baltazar is confirmed to have signed with the Hiroshima Dragonflies for the upcoming season in Japan.
Spin.ph first broke the development and said that the six-foot-seven forward signed with the Dragonflies in a one-year deal.
Baltazar beat the application deadline of rookies for the 2022 PBA Draft but immediately withdrew a day after as per PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.
According to Marcial, Baltazar wrote a letter to him during the day of the workout combine and stated several reasons for his sudden withdrawal but didn’t disclose the Japan B. League matter.
Several months ago, there were rumor already circulating that several Japanese teams were eyeing him after a stellar campaign with Gilas Pilipinas.
Baltazar, under the tutelage of Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin, blossomed into a pure small forward and had impressive games including their back-to-back sweep of the mighty South Korean team.
The DLSU star will join Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, Dwight Ramos, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., Kobe Paras, and Kemark Cariño as the only Filipinos to play as Asian imports in Japan.
Baltazar was projected to be an easy top-three pick in this year’s PBA Draft and even boosted his draft stock after finishing second during the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball Most Valuable Player race behind Ateneo Blue Eagles’ Ange Kouame.
After his season in Japan, Baltazar has not indicated whether he will opt for an extension, accept his offer from the Korean Basketball League, or finally enter the PBA Draft.