At 6-foot-9, Justine Baltazar is good enough to play center in Philippine basketball.
But coach Tab Baldwin has transformed him into a small forward, which suited him just right, especially during their game against Indonesia in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on Friday.
With superior height against Indonesian defenders, Baltazar showed his offensive prowess, drilling 2 3-pointers to finish with 11 points, 9 rebounds, a steal, and a block.
"Matagal ko na kasing prinaktis. Sabi ng coaches natin kaya ko namang maging wing man, para pagpasok sa court mataas ang height natin," he said.
Baldwin was pleased with Baltazar's transition, saying: "I think he has made the transition pretty smoothly, particularly at the offensive end.
"He has a great offensive skillset. But I think he's potentially even a better defender, especially at this point."
The coach said Baltazar's height will be useful to defend his smaller counterparts in Asia.
He added that this will also enable Gilas to match up against the naturally taller teams from Europe, which put big men into small forward positions.
"I think when we get to go up against European players . . . It will be more comfortable," Baldwin said.
"He is a smart player, he is a tough player. He's going to bulk up, going to get to be physically stronger, that's going to be a problem to other teams."