Fajardo makes surprise visit at Gilas practice
MANILA, Philippines – For a four-time PBA MVP, days passing by without playing basketball must feel like years.
And gentle giant June Mar Fajardo is feeling exactly that.
That’s why the injured star made an unannounced visit to the Meralco Gym on Thursday, September 6, to watch his Gilas Pilipinas teammates practice for the fourth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
Even interim head coach Yeng Guiao got surprised, but was nonetheless appreciative of the gesture.
“We appreciate it very much,” he told reporters after practice. “He wants to play, but due to circumstances beyond his control, he cannot. But he showed his support and his desire to be with the team by just showing up. Di ko alam kung sinong nag-imbita sa kanya, di ko naman siya inimbita pero dumating siya.”
(I don’t know who invited him, I didn’t even invite him but he dropped by.)
“But that is very much appreciated,” he added. “It’s just a way of him showing he’s concerned and he would’ve loved to play for this team.”
While there is still no final lineup as the entire 16-man roster flies to Iran for their September 13 game, Guiao shared that Fajardo would have been a shoo-in.
Meanwhile, the soft-spoken six-time Best Player of the Conference shared that he’s just itching to return to play and represent the country, which will most likely happen in the fifth window in November.
“First time kong manood ng practice,” said Fajardo, who was wearing a boot cast on his right leg. “[Pero] siyempre suporta, suporta. Part pa rin naman ako ng team na ‘to, so buo yung suporta ko.”
“Sana gumaling agad [yung injury] para makabalik na,” he added. “Nakakainis eh, pag wala kang ginagawa. Nasa bahay ka lang, nakahiga ka lang."
(It’s my first time being a spectator in practice. But of course, I’m here to support. I’m still part of this team, so they have my full support. I hope my injury heals quickly. It’s irritating when you have nothing to do. You’re just at home, laying in bed.)
For now, until Greg Slaughter’s status as a local is finalized, Guiao and his staff are looking to bring in either San Miguel big man Christian Standhardinger or NorthPort guard Stanley Pringle as Gilas’ naturalized player.
But had Fajardo been available, then Iran’s Hamed Haddadi would have already met his match. – Rappler.com