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Fajardo saves best for last with first SEA Games gold

MANILA, Philippines – Nothing is sweeter than the first. 

June Mar Fajardo can now call himself a Southeast Asian Games gold medalist after Gilas Pilipinas thwarted Thailand, 115-81, on Tuesday, December 10, to rule the regional showpiece for the 18th time.

Sure, Fajardo has countless of precious hardwares from his stellar PBA career – including 5 MVP awards and 8 titles – but this one ranks up there. 

"Iki-keep ko ito hanggang sa tumanda ako, hanggang sa mawala ako sa PBA. Sobrang ganda," Fajardo said as he marvelled at his gold medal. 

(I'll keep this until I get old, until I'm already retired from the PBA. This is beautiful.)

"Sobrang blessed kami na binigyan kami ni God ng opportunity na makakuha ng gold so sobrang happy ko na nakakuha ako ng gold. Pwede siguro itong isangla, ano?" he added with a boyish smile. 

(I'm really blessed that God gave us the opportunity to win a gold so I'm very happy that I got a gold. This can be pawned, right?) 

It has been a roller coaster year for Fajardo, to say the least.

He and San Miguel won the first two championships in the PBA this season to move one title away from a rare Grand Slam. 

Success, though, did not follow Fajardo in the FIBA World Cup, where Gilas Pilipinas lost all of its 5 games with a point differential of -147 and finished dead-last among the 32 participating nations. 

Another heartbreak followed when San Miguel was booted out of the quarterfinals in the Governors' Cup as Fajardo saw his Grand Slam bid crushed

But the basketball gods sure have saved the best for last for Fajardo. 

"First gold ko sa SEA Games. Hindi ko alam kung kailan ulit ako makakalaro sa SEA Games. Ito 'yung una so sobrang saya. Emotional ako ngayon." 

(This is my first gold in the SEA Games. I don't know when I'm going to play in the SEA Games again. This is my first so I'm really happy. I'm emotional.) 

June Mar Fajardo relishes winning his first SEA Games gold medal: "Iki-keep ko ito hanggang sa tumanda ako." #SEAGames2019 | @dioquinodelfin pic.twitter.com/RN1UjxWe6Z — Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) December 10, 2019

Fajardo also tipped his hat to all athletes who represented the country in the biggest edition of the biennial meet – regardless if they won a medal or not. 

"Kino-congratulate ko lahat ng medalists na atletang Pilipino, naka-bronze, naka-silver, pati na rin mga 'di nakakuha ng medal. Proud pa rin tayo sa kanila." 

(I want to congratulate all Filipino athletes, those who won bronze, silver, and even those who didn't win a medal. We're still proud of them.) Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.

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