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Justine Baltazar finally earns Player of the Week nod


La Salle’s Justine Baltazar took home the UAAP Player of the Week honors on Monday.

The 6-foot-8 center led La Salle to an 82-72 victory against UE last Sunday with his 16 points and nine rebounds.

He was also outstanding during their last game against NU where he posted double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Boasting an all-Filipino lineup after Ben Mbala decided to take his talents abroad, La Salle coach Louie Gonzales had the pressure in challenging his third-year player to rise to the occasion.

“Chinachallenge ko na siya na noong January pa and now especially na ilagay siya sa limelight,” said Gonzales.

“It’s a change of lifestyle for him, it can’t be only na naglalaro siya ng basketball. He has to take care of himself, his nutrition, his rest niya, at yung image niya.”

Fortunately, Baltazar didn’t just disappoint the first-year coach, but he also came out to the league at the right time.

“This kid is just waiting for his time, and this is his time,” Gonzales assured.

Baltazar was chosen by the media over teammate Aljun Melecio, Adamson University’s Jerrick Ahanmisi, and Far Eastern University’s Prince Orizu for the award.