Size matters | Inquirer Sports

Size matters

05:30 AM November 01, 2018

Greg Slaughter (left) and June Mar Fajardo – Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

The tantalizing prospect of getting the PBA’s two best big men is within national coach Yeng Guiao’s grasp and the mercurial mentor cannot help but marvel at the sudden bump in ceiling for Gilas Pilipinas.

With two home games on the horizon for the national team in the next window of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers, Guiao could have the one thing that very few coaches had before: A glut of size at the low blocks with reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter fit to join the squad.


“For the first time in a long while, you will have June Mar, Greg, and Japeth (Aguilar) playing together in a team with (Andray) Blatche,” said Guiao in a statement released by the league to media offices. “Definitely, we will get a little bigger.”


A little is an understatement, especially with Guiao dead set on including 7-foot-1 high school star Kai Sotto in Ateneo in the pool.

“It will help Kai a lot, playing against the likes of June Mar, Blatche and Slaughter in practices,” Guiao told the Inquirer in a recent interview. “He’s had little to no competition in high school and if we want him to develop, getting him to play against the big pros will help.

“He has the skills and the IQ to match up with them; it’s just that he isn’t physically as big and as strong,” added Guiao.

Fajardo and Slaughter are back in good health and could be available for games against Kazakhstan and Iran, which the country will host at Mall of Asia Arena.

Gilas Pilipinas battles Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 before facing tormentor Iran on Dec. 3.

The 6-foot-11 Blatche, however, will only be eligible to play against Iran because of the three-game suspension meted on him by Fiba for his role in an in-game brawl against Australia in July. Also eligible after serving out suspensions as a result of that brawl are Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo and Troy Rosario.


Injuries prevented both Fajardo and Slaughter from joining the national team under Guiao when it lost to Iran at Tehran, 81-73, on Sept. 13. The two were also absent when Gilas beat Qatar, 92-81, in a closed-door match at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

And the added size won’t even slow down the team.

“June Mar and the others can also run,” Guiao said.

Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle are again being considered for the Nov. 30 clash with Kazakhstan.

“We will just present the pool to them (league board) and present our training schedule as well,” said Guiao.

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Others included in the pool are Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Alex Cabagnot, Poy Erram, Scottie Thompson, Marcio Lassiter, Raymond Almazan, Ian Sangalang, Allei Maliksi, Beau Belga, Matthew Wright and Asi Taulava. —BONG LOZADA, INQUIRER.NET

TAGS: Fiba World Cup Qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas, June Mar Fajardo

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