SBP willing to wait for Fajardo: ‘The country needs him’
TAIPEI – The country needs June Mar Fajardo so bad that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is willing to wait for the 6-foot-10 center’s injury to heal so he can rejoin the Gilas Pilipinas pool even at the 11th hour.
“I really believe that he is injured,” SBP vice chair Ricky Vargas said on Tuesday morning during a chat with Filipino scribes covering the 37th Jones Cup here. “Dahil kailangang-kailangan siya ng bayan (Because he’s badly needed by our country), Gilas is willing to wait for him.”
The reigning two-time PBA MVP with San Miguel Beer, along with Rain or Shine point guard Paul Lee, have been the biggest names not included in the pool and the cage body understands the value of Fajardo for the coming Fiba Asia Olympic qualifier in China later this month.
“We are just waiting for the time that his injury heals,” Vargas continued. “Maybe, if he is well again (physically), puede na ulit tayo makiusap sa kanya (we can ask Fajardo again) to rejoin the team.”
Fajardo was included in the original list of 16 players the PBA released to the Gilas pool last Aug. 3. He has begged off even before that because of plantar fasciitis on both feet that he played through for most of the last PBA season.
“May pagmamahal sa bayan yan (Fajardo). Homegrown yun, eh. (He has love for the country because he is homegrown),” Vargas added.
Fajardo was with the Gilas squad that finished second to Iran in the Fiba-Asia in Manila in 2013 and broke out internationally while playing alongside naturalized center Andray Blatche during the World Cup in Spain.
Should Fajardo have a change of heart and Jordan Clarkson gets the green light from the Fiba, together with Blatche and a horde of talented wingmen, Gilas will surely be one of the teams to beat in the Olympic qualifying event in Changsha, China from Sept. 23.