Photo by Jamie Velasco/Courtside Philippines

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Exclusion from 24-man Gilas pool ‘a blessing in disguise’ for Fajardo, says Austria

by Niel Victor Masoy, January 15, 2020 5:03pm

When the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) bared the 24-man Gilas Pilipinas pool for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers last week, one key name was missing - June Mar Fajardo.

SBP president Al Panlilio explained the national basketball federation’s move, saying it excluded Fajardo to give him extended rest and give the young players in the pool a chance to show what they got.

San Miguel Beermen head coach Leo Austria echoed the sentiments of Panlilio, saying Fajardo really needed an extended break considering he’s been playing non-stop basketball for the always title-contending San Miguel in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and Gilas in international tourneys.

“I think it's a blessing in disguise for him dahil magkakaroon siya ng time na mag recuperate sa mga injuries because during his Gilas stint the last five years, I think hindi siya healthy always meron siyang nararamdaman nagka problem siya sa shin, sa tuhod and then sa calf niya,” said Austria.

The eight-time PBA champion coach then also took the Beermen’s early exit in this season-ending Governor’s Cup in stride, saying it’s an additional break for his players, especially for his main man and five-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) June Mar Fajardo, who last played for Gilas in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last December.

“Itong early exit namin sa conference na ito nagkaroon ng mahabang pahinga sila. I think that's the first time na nagkaroon kami ng ganito kahaba dahil in the last five years ang pagitan ng conference one week or two weeks for us. I hope this long lay off makatulong sa kanila especially June Mar dahila alam mo naman sabik na sabik yang mga yan eh,” he remarked.

“It will help us a lot kasi makikita mo eh kailangan maging gutom uli itong mga players and motivated dahil pag ka you re not in top shape and not healythy kulang yung galaw mo eh. At least nagkaroon kami ng six weeks prior to the opening of the conference.

“I think malaki matutulong nito especially June Mar and lagi siya humihingi ng rest sa min because of Gilas. Talagang nagsa-sacrifice kami para sa kanya dahil alam naman natin na kailangan siya any team whether sa San Miguel or sa Gilas."

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