Fajardo will still ‘definitely’ be part of Gilas in 2023, says Austria
The Philippines hosting the 2023 Fiba World Cup is still be five years away, but San Miguel coach Leo Austria still expects June Mar Fajardo to be a major part of the national team at that time.
“ is still a long time and there will be a lot of changes that might happen. It depends during that span of time on the players that will develop, but definitely, I think June Mar Fajardo will be a candidate when that time comes,” he said.
Still at the peak of his powers, Fajardo is still a mainstay on coach Chot Reyes’ roster for the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers with his resume boosted by his accomplishments in the PBA as a four-time MVP and a five-time champion.
And barring any major injuries, Austria is expecting the Cebuano giant to continue having no letups in the growth of his game as the buildup for the country’s hosting of the global basketball extravaganza approaches.
Fajardo will be 33 years old by 2023.
Austria also acknowledged that Reyes has an abundance of talent at his disposal with 7-footers Kai Sotto and AJ Edu both part of the “23-for-23” cadet pool.
The question, however, is if the 15-year-old Sotto and the 18-year-old Edu will be mature enough at that time to battle against the world’s best players.
“I think those players are big and can do what June Mar is doing right now, but it will depend on their maturity because international competitions are not easy tournaments, especially with this setup which is home-and-away. You can never know what will happen,” Austria said.
That’s why Austria has his full belief that Fajardo will still be donning the national tri-colors come 2023.
“Maybe if June Mar wins a fifth of sixth MVP, they will think about it,” he said. “We want nothing but to help Gilas be better because they’re representing our homeland.”
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