FOSHAN, China – Standing at 6-foot-10, June Mar Fajardo rarely looks small in the PBA, with seven-foot Greg Slaughter the only player taller than him in the Philippines' premier professional league.
But it was not the same case in the FIBA World Cup as Fajardo went up against the 7-foot-3 Boban Marjanovic in Gilas Pilipinas' 67-126 blowout loss to Serbia on Tuesday, September 2.
"Noong pinostehan niya ko eh, nawala ako eh," the San Miguel superstar told Filipino reporters here with a smile when asked if he felt small while sharing the court with the Dallas Mavericks giant.
(When he posted me up, I didn't know what to do.)
Despite the height difference, Fajardo was able to stand his own against Marjanovic and his other seven-foot teammates in Denver Nuggets standout Nikola Jokic, Miroslav Raduljica, and Nikola Milutinov.
He recorded 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in over 19 minutes of action.
"Magandang experience 'yun para sa akin, para sa team. 'Yun nga, sobrang laki niya. Pero nakakatuwa. Dati napapanood mo lang sa TV tapos ngayon nakalaro mo na, 'di ba? Sobrang liit lang pala ng mundo."
(It's a good experience for me and the team. He's really tall and big. But I'm happy. I was only able to watch him before on TV but I was able to play against him now. It's really a small world.)
Gilas Pilipinas star June Mar Fajardo finally got to face look-alike Boban Marjanovic of Serbia here in the FIBA World Cup. Does he agree with the comparison? #FIBAWC | @dioquinodelfin pic.twitter.com/Dib0qfmvOM — Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) September 3, 2019
Fajardo added his encounter with Marjanovic will be useful in the future as he looks to expand his game.
"Nacha-challenge ako. Nate-test 'yung lakas ko, then 'di ba, sa physicality. Kasi nga sobrang bigat niya, mga 300 pounds ata 'yun. So mga ilang pounds lamang niya sa akin, mga 30 pounds ata 'yung lamang niya sa akin," Fajardo said.
(I was challenged. My strength was tested and he's physical. He's really heavy, he probably weighs 300 pounds. I guess he weighs 30 pounds heavier than me.)
"Malaking bagay 'yun, malaking tulong 'yun para sa akin. So experience-wise, marami akong makukuha doon."
(Playing against him is a big help to me. Experience-wise, I'll learn a lot from that.)
Marjanovic only had good things to say about Fajardo and the rest of Gilas Pilipinas.
"My opponent, I'm really happy to play against him and to play against everybody because they make me happy," Marjanovic said.
Serbia star Boban Marjanovic gives his thoughts on Gilas Pilipinas and look-alike June Mar Fajardo following their 59-point win. #FIBAWC | @dioquinodelfin pic.twitter.com/h0iGRCSiQs — Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) September 2, 2019
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.