Balti Baltazar withdraws from PBA Draft

By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

May 13, 2022, 8:38 am

MANILA – One of the projected top picks for this year's PBA Draft has pulled out his name from the event.

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial confirmed on Thursday that six-foot-seven forward Balti Baltazar backed out from Sunday's draft proceedings as he is set to take his talents elsewhere, at least for a year.

He said Baltazar sent a letter that he received earlier in the day formalizing his decision to pull himself out of the draft.

"May letter na binigay sa akin kanina na finormal niya na niwi-withdraw niya ang pag-a-apply niya para sa draft this year (I received a letter stating his formal withdrawal from this year's draft)," Marcial said after the PBA Draft Combine held at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong City.

Attending the combine is a necessary process for the draft applicants if they want to continue their intent to join the draft.

Baltazar missed the final day of the combine just like during Day 1 on Wednesday, although Marcial said he was excused for both days just like those who were absent due to their college basketball finals commitments.

Marcial, however, disclosed that Baltazar's valid excuse is an offer to play in the B.League.

"Kausap ko (si Balti). Sabi niya, 'Comm, pwede bang one year muna ako sa Japan, tapos balik kami?' Sabi ko, 'OK lang’ (I spoke to Balti. He said, 'Comm, can I play in Japan for a year then come back?' I said, 'It's ok’)," he added, although he did not say which team Baltazar would join.

Initially, both Marcial and Baltazar agreed that the latter could still be drafted to the PBA on Sunday but would spend the 2022-2023 season in the B.League and would just join his PBA mother team in the following season.

However, with the B.League season still ongoing by the time the PBA season ends by May 10, 2023 at the latest, both Marcial and Baltazar decided for the latter to just defer his draft application to next year.

"Para 'di maipit 'yung bata at 'yung team na kukuha sa kanya, nagkausap kami na mag-Japan muna siya, tapos saka siya bumalik 'pag OK na (We agreed that he could go to Japan, then return when everything else is okay so that the team drafting him would not have any problem)," Marcial added.

Baltazar is among those tipped to be selected early into the draft.

Marcial himself projected him as a Top 5 pick.

With Baltazar now scratched off the list, the number of draft applicants this year is down to 74, although it is expected to be trimmed further by Friday as the PBA releases the final list of draft aspirants. (PNA)