Baltazar, Heading beef up Strong Group in Dubai tourney

Baltazar, Heading beef up Strong Group in Dubai tourney

MAHARLIKA Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Justine Baltazar and Gilas Pilipinas sniper Jordan Heading have been tapped as the latest additions to the Strong Group Athletics squad set to represent the country in the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championships on Jan. 19 to 28.

Messrs. Baltazar and Heading will join a formidable local crew headlined by UAAP MVP Kevin Quiambao of De La Salle University to backstop their four reinforcements in NBA veteran Dwight Howard, Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche, Andre Roberson and McKenzie Moore. “Balti (Baltazar) is great. He runs the floor well, has a really good attitude, can rebound, defend, and score. He will be a big help to our team as a local big man,” said Charles Tiu on Mr. Baltazar.

“We really needed another guard and shooter. I think Mr. Jordan fits the bill. It will be my first time working with him and we look forward to having him on our team,” he added on Mr. Heading. Mr. Baltazar is coming off a banner campaign with the MPBL champion Pampanga Giant Lanterns while Mr. Heading is fresh from a solid run with the Nagasaki Velca in the Japan B. League.

A former anchor of La Salle in the UAAP and also in Japan for a brief stint, Mr. Baltazar took the MPBL by storm with averages of 17.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game to win the MVP and championship for Pampanga.

Mr. Heading, for his part, posted 13.4 points, 3.6 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals to help Nagasaki gain a Division I promotion in the B. League.

Other locals strutting their stuff for Strong Group are University of the Philippines’ JD Cagulangan, La Salle’s Francis Escandor, and College of St. Benilde’s Allen Liwag, Justine Sanchez and Tony Ynot.

Mr. Tiu’s coaching staff, meanwhile includes consultant Brian Goorjian and assistant coaches Topex Robinson and TY Tang. — John Bryan Ulanday