Pingris sure: Fajardo will be next Haddadi
INCHEON, South Korea—Marc Pingris has been known to be spot on when making predictions about knockout games that his team in the PBA, San Mig Coffee, would play. On Wednesday afternoon, he decided to make a different kind of prediction.
“Eto, tandaan nyo, sinabi ko ‘to (Remember I told you this),” Pingris told journalists at the sidelines of Jemulpo High School, where Gilas Pilipinas practiced for Thursday’s preliminary round match against Asian champion Iran.
“Si June Mar (Fajardo) ang next Haddadi (June Mar is the next Hadadi),” he added.
It’s a big comparison since Iran’s Hamed Haddadi has owned the title of Asia’s best center since the Chinese Great Wall led by Yao Ming faded into obscurity. But Pingris is sure of what the future holds for Fajardo because according to the gutsy Mixers forward, it’s what the Gilas Pilipinas players talk about a lot.
“’Di na namin pinaguusapan ang isa’t-isa,” Pingris said. “Ang pinaguusapan lang namin dito si June Mar. Magiging problema namin ‘yan sa PBA.”
(We are no longer talking about other players. The only one we’re talking about here is June Mar. He will be a problem for us come the PBA.)
“Grabe ang promise n’yan. Sobrang laki, magaling pa. At masipag din naman. Biro mo, ang bata-bata pa n’ya. Lumaban sa Rookie of the Year, naging MVP. Pero malaki pa ang igagaling. San ka pa?”
(He has tremendous promise. He is big and good. He is also hard-working. He’s young. He fought for the Rookie of the Year and won the MVP. He can still improve a lot. What can you say about that?)
Fajardo has been steadily improving his game while playing for Gilas Pilipinas, earning raves during the recent Fiba World Cup where he was statistically measured as having the second best player efficiency rating behind Spanish NBA veteran Pau Gasol.
Fajardo had 12 points and nine rebounds in just 12 minutes of action in Gilas Pilipnas’ 85-76 victory over India Tuesday, replicating the kind of efficiency he flaunted in Seville, Spain, during the World Cup.
“Ginagawa ko lang trabaho ko sa team (I am just doing my job),” Fajardo said.
Pingris has a habit of predicting his team’s victories during knockout playoff or championship matches. And his batting average is pretty high with these predictions.
Pingris added that the great thing about Fajardo, who sponged up a lot of what former teammate Danny Ildefonso taught him when they were together at San Miguel Beer, is that the Cebu native is always willing to learn.
“Nakikinig, lalo na ‘pag sinasabihan ko na kailangan pa rin ng hard work,” Pingris said.
(He listens especially when I tell him that he still needs to work hard.)
And Pingris is willing to also take Fajardo under his wings, even if it means he’s creating a headache for himself in the PBA.
“’Pag nasa Pilipinas nga kami, ‘pag nagwo-workout ako, lagi ko ‘yan sinasama,” said Pingris. “Sa court lang naman kami magkalaban. Sa labas, friends kami kaya tinutulungan ko rin.”
(When we’re in the Philippines, I always have him tag along during my workouts. We are only enemies on the court, but off it, we are friends so I help him.)