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MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas big man AJ Edu looked back on his FIBA World Cup stint with fondness, hoping it is the first of many times donning the national colors in the seniors level.
Edu said he will cherish the experience for a lifetime despite a rather forgettable run that saw co-host Philippines drop its first four games before it ended its campaign on a high note with a dominant win over Asian rival China.
“So blessed to have had the opportunity to represent at the world stage,” Edu wrote on Instagram. “Thank you all for your amazing support. These are memories I will never forget!”
The second-youngest member in the team after Kai Sotto, the 23-year-old Edu showed out in his first official FIBA tournament in the seniors level.
Edu led the Filipinos in rebounding with 8.6 boards on top of 8.2 points, 1.4 assists, and 1.2 blocks as the starting power forward.
He produced 5 points and 10 rebounds in a 96-75 rout of China as the Philippines earned its first World Cup victory since 2014.
It was a stellar campaign for Edu, especially after he endured a string of knee injuries that derailed his national team and collegiate career for the past couple of years.
Edu tore his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee in their opening game of the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup then sustained two more injuries in 2020 and 2021.
“Despite all the trials faced with the injuries, the Lord is faithful and all things really work together for good,” said Edu.
“It was an honor, and hopefully, the first of many times representing Gilas!”
Like the rest of his fellow Filipino imports, Edu is expected to link up with Toyama Grouses in Japan after signing with the B. League squad in June. – Rappler.com