Fiba World Cup: Bruno Fernando praises June Mar Fajardo, ‘well-coached’ Gilas
MANILA, Philippines — Angola big man Bruno Fernando heaped praise on June Mar Fajardo and the “well-coached” Gilas Pilipinas on Sunday night.
Fernando helped Angola boost its bid to qualify for the second round after beating Gilas, 80-70, in Group A of the Fiba World Cup before 12,784 fans at Araneta Coliseum.
“[They are a ] well-coached team. A lot of talent, a lot of guys that can really play basketball. They made it tough for us, we were able to come out there and fight against them. Number 15, Fajardo, a lot of credit, somebody that we all gotta respect. He has a lot of game to him,” Fernando told reporters.
“Obviously, Jordan is the head of the snake. Credits to them, the team, and the coach. Very well-coached team. Great win for us.”
Fajardo, who shone with 16 points and seven rebounds in Friday’s loss to the Dominican Republic, still caught the attention of Fernando despite finishing with only four points on 2-of-5 shooting from the field with seven rebounds.
The 25-year-old Fernando, on the other hand, showed why he’s a member of the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA with 14 points, including one monstrous dunk, and seven rebounds.
The 6-foot-10 center said Angola needed to assert its aggressiveness to slow down the Filipinos after their strong first quarter.
“We just had to be aggressive. I think that’s one thing that we know we have an advantage. We have an edge against a lot of teams. We have a lot of bodies to throw at people,” Fernando said. “We just continue to go out there and show a lot of aggressiveness. We just continue to do our best to take advantage of their mistakes defensively and today was a great one. We’re gonna use that and move on to the next one.”
Fernando was relieved after getting the crucial win as the Angolans bounced back from a tough opening loss to Italy, which they tied at 1-1.
“It means a lot to us. It was a great win and we needed it. Like what I kept saying, credit to the team. Very well-coached. But also credit to us. We came out here trying to fight. We know that there’s gonna be a lot of things against them playing at home: the refs, the crowd, being able to fight them on the court,” he said. “It was a great win. We’re just excited that we got the win, we’re just excited that we got this win and celebrate and enjoy this and worry about the next one.”
After getting their first win, Fernando braces for Angola’s must-win game against unbeaten Dominican Republic, led by three-time NBA All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns.
“It’s gonna be a tough one. Like I said, we’re gonna come out with the same energy that we come out today,” he said.