FIBA World Cup

‘Fantastic’ AJ Edu holds own against NBA All-Star Towns

Philip Matel

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‘Fantastic’ AJ Edu holds own against NBA All-Star Towns

CHALLENGE. Philippine big AJ Edu goes toe to toe against Dominican Republic stalwart Karl-Anthony Towns.

Eloisa Lopez/REUTERS

AJ Edu impresses in his Gilas Pilipinas debut as NBA All-Star and Dominican Republic stalwart sees an ‘ultra competitor’ in the 6-foot-10 Filipino big

BULACAN, Philippines — In his FIBA World Cup debut, AJ Edu could have folded like a lawn chair under immense pressure. 

Performing before a an extremely loud, record crowd of 38,115 at the cavernous Philippine Arena, the 23-year-old big held his own against NBA All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns.

Edu, who started for Gilas Pilipinas, was one of the bright spots in a thrilling Philippine team fight before ultimately losing to the Dominican Republic to open Group A action, 87-81, on Friday, August 25.

In what could be an interesting piece of footage for NBA scouts, he forced the former top draft choice and his teammates into very tough shots, before being saddled with four fouls late in the closing quarter.

As Edu rode the bench, the defense of the Philippines waned, leading to the finishing kick by the world No. 23 squad.

“I loved the challenge. Ultimately, I’d love to play in the NBA one day so I got to do my best against players like that and he’s up there, you know?” Edu said after the game.

“[An] All-Star player. Number one pick. There’s no better way to measure myself than to guard someone like Karl-Anthony Towns,” he added.

“It was fun. This is why I play basketball, to play in situations like this, in crowds like this… I mean, he’s an NBA player, he got at me a couple of times, but I think I got him also. It was a blessing.”

Edu finished with 7 points on 100% shooting, which went along with 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Towns, on the other hand, had a forgettable 5-of-16 field goal shooting performance but earned 26 points through an almost perfect 15-of-16 clip from the charity stripe.

After the game, the Minnesota Timberwolves big raved about the 6-foot-10 Edu, calling him a “fantastic” player and an “ultra competitor.”

Edu also thanked his coaches for letting him earn his stripes as he is out to repay them with an intimidating frontline presence for what could be the biggest Filipino team ever.

After suffering several ACL tears, this could be the biggest break Edu would have in his young career.

“I just appreciate the belief that coach has in me. All the coaching staff have that belief in me to go and give Karl-Anthony the best challenge that I could,” said Edu. 

“That trust just goes a long way, gives confidence for a young player like me. To just continue to elevate my game and to continue to build on that trust.” –

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