MANILA, Philippines – Country first.
June Mar Fajardo returned to practice with Gilas Pilipinas for the first time in more than two weeks, at the expense of the victory party staged by San Miguel for winning another PBA title.
The Cebuano giant only dropped by the get-together at the San Miguel headquarters in Mandaluyong City before heading to the Meralco Gym in Pasig City to reunite with the national team on Tuesday, August 20.
"Duty calls," said Fajardo when asked what made him decide to skip the celebration. "Gilas is the priority now and the bosses in San Miguel understood."
"I told the coaches that I needed to practice again and they said it's okay and they understand me," he added in Filipino.
But Fajardo, together with Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, have a lot of catching up to do as they missed the training camp in Spain that saw the Philippine crew tweak some of its schemes for the FIBA World Cup.
Last joining the national team practice in the first week of August, the reigning five-time PBA Most Valuable Player admitted he needs to adjust to the plays set up by coach Yeng Guiao.
"There were plays that I knew and there were others that are new. Coach said that we need to arrive early in the next practices so we can work on the plays that we still don't know," he said.
"I hope that we adapt to the system and absorb what coaches want to teach us. I don't think it's that complicated because we were able to run the plays."
Fajardo and the rest of the Philippine team have less than two weeks to gear up before the FIBA World Cup kicks off in multiple cities in China on August 31. – Rappler.com
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.