Baltazar, Gozum to bolster Strong Group in Dubai tilt

Justine Baltazar and Will Gozum are set to bolster the lineup of the Strong Group team that will represent the Philippines in the Dubai 2023 International Championship set to fire off on Jan. 27.

Will Gozum (left) and Justine Baltazar (PBA Images)

Joining Baltazar and Gozum are BJ Andrade and Inand Fornillos in the roster that already has former PBA import Renaldo Balkman, naturalized player and former Ateneo center Ange Kouame, Fil-Am guard Sedrick Barefield and NBA veteran Nick Young.

The Dubai tilt is set to give Baltazar a chance to showcase his wares in the international stage after an uneventful stint with the Hiroshima Dragonflies in the B.League.

“Balti is going to be big for us, he wasn't given much of a chance in Japan but the kid is a great player and I plan to use him as a big wing and power forward, but of course it all remains to be seen on how it will look when we start practicing,” said head coach Charles Tiu.

Also reuniting with Tiu is Gozum who played under him and bagged the NCAA MVP plum while helping College of St. Benilde to a bridesmaid finish last season.

Andrade, a four-time UAAP champion, brings in the winning experience while Tiu got a reliable athletic 3-and-D guy in Fornillos.

Strong Group owner Jacob Lao expressed his excitement in having players that are used to winning.

“They're all winners in their own ways and their experience will surely help the team for them. But very excited for all of them because it is a rare opportunity for these players to further grow and learn a new style of play internationally,” said Lao.

“They're all very talented individuals who can compliment and play specific roles that the team needs,” he added.