Gilas coaches rue absence of injured June Mar Fajardo | Inquirer Sports

Gilas coaches rue absence of injured June Mar Fajardo

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 06:44 PM August 06, 2015

June Mar Fajardo. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

June Mar Fajardo. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

The Gilas Pilipinas coaching staff has yet to receive the official word from June Mar Fajardo himself, but is disappointed learning from reports that the 6-foot-10 San Miguel Beer cornerstone and two-time PBA MVP is out of the national pool.

“He (Fajardo) is obviously a great player, the best big man in the country right now,” said a member of Tab Baldwin’s coaching staff, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified for lack of authority to speak on the matter.

READ: Baldwin not gathering ‘best talent’ but assembling ‘best team’ for Gilas

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“One thing is for sure, it (Fajardo withdrawal) was (a) disappointing (development),” he said.

The composition of the Gilas pool was released on Monday afternoon and it included the names of Fajardo and fellow San Miguel Corp. players and national team veterans Marc Pingris of Star and LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra.

The trio never showed up for practice Monday and Fajardo was the first one to break his silence in an exclusive INQUIRER.net interview in Cebu on Wednesday afternoon.

READ: June Mar Fajardo: I’ll skip Gilas duties for now

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Pingris is still in France with his entire family to be with his French father, a vacation scheduled way before Baldwin came up with his wish list of national team prospects from the PBA.

Tenorio, who won the Jones Cup MVP in his Gilas stint in 2012, wants to take a break, complaining of fatigue and poor form.

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Another member of the coaching staff, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that there is nothing left to do but focus “on what (players) we have.”

READ: Amid pullouts, Alapag still confident of current Gilas pool

“The players that are part of this pool are determined and prepared to win,” said the second coach. “I think at this time, the right thing to do is dwell on the positives and let go of the negatives.

“The positive thing about this pool is that everyone wants to work hard and everyone wants to represent the country and win,” he went on. “It’s our job to get the players that are here ready for battle.”

So far, the pool is down to 14 men after former PBA MVP Kelly Williams was ordered to rest for at least a month after tearing an MCL in his right knee barely five minutes into the team’s first practice on Monday night.

READ: Kelly Williams hurts right knee during Gilas training

“If he (Fajardo) is injured, I wish that he gets better the soonest,” said the first coach. “I’m sure he is also looking after his safety for his family.”

The big men left for Baldwin are the 42-year-old Asi Taulava, the 6-foot-7 Sonny Thoss and naturalized player Andray Blatche, who is cramming to lose excess pounds resulting from inactivity since March.

Although not named, amateur power forward Troy Rosario, the former National University ace, and Gilas assistant coach and former ace point guard Jimmy Alapag are practicing with Gilas.

READ: Week 1: Who we think should make it to Gilas final 12

With the Fiba-Asia Championship in China that will reward the winner a berth in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics slated in late September, the Gilas pool will travel to Europe on Aug. 13 at the earliest for a week-long training camp in Turkey.

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A pocket tournament among four nations – Estonia, Iceland, Finland and the Philippines – is in the calendar the Filipinos from Aug. 21-23, before the Nationals come home to cool their heels for a while and head for the Jones Cup in Chinese-Taipei.

TAGS: 2015 fiba asia championships, Basketball, Gilas 3.0, Gilas news, Gilas Pilipinas, gilas roster, June Mar Fajardo, Kelly Williams, LA Tenorio, Marc Pingris, San Miguel Corporation, Sports, Tab Baldwin

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