AJ Edu emerges as Gilas Pilipinas' most solid big man | Inquirer Sports

AJ Edu emerges as Gilas Pilipinas’ most solid big man

/ 08:27 PM September 01, 2023

Gilas Pilipinas' AJ Edu.

Gilas Pilipinas’ AJ Edu. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the Gilas Pilipinas’ disappointing Fiba World Cup 2023 campaign, AJ Edu continues to emerge as one of the home team’s consistent big men.

He put up his best outing of 12 points and 14 rebounds only for Gilas to fall to South Sudan, 87-68, in their classification match on Thursday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.


“I try to put my heart out there. With the rebounds, my mentality is to go for everyone. Hopefully, people have been talking about my defense, I showed people what I can do on offense as well,” Edu told reporters shortly after another frustrating loss.


The young 6-foot-10 forward, who averaged 9.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in four games, credited his impressive first World Cup stint to veterans Japeth Aguilar and June Mar Fajardo and his connection with longtime teammate Kai Sotto.

“Me and Kai have a good relationship off the court and I think that translates on the court in terms of being on the same page. Everyone talks about my relationship with Kai but also I have a great relationship with Japeth and June Mar,” Edu said. “I learned a lot from them as well. This experience has been invaluable in terms of getting that court time with Kai, June Mar, and Japeth. Just great bigs that I’m learning a lot from.”

Edu and Sotto were on the floor in Gilas’ second-half surge as the former lobbed the ball to the 7-foot-3 center to trim the lead within four, 60-56, with seven minutes left.

The 23-year-old Filipino-Cypriot big man attributed their chemistry to their bond since playing together for the national youth team in the Fiba Asia Under-18 championship in Bangkok, Thailand five years ago.

“I rolled to the basket, his defender came towards me and I know if I throw it up there Kai’s gonna go get it. It’s more credit to him on that one. I just threw it out there and I knew he was gonna go get it,” Edu said.  


“That just shows how close we are off the court, we’re really good friends off the court and that translates on the court. That chemistry —we’ve been playing together since a young age—and that has always been there. It’s really cool we’re able to bring it to the highest level,” he added.

However, South Sudan got its act together and sent Gilas out of the race for Asia’s lone outright Olympic berth.

“Tough game. They shot really well. They kind of took us by surprise at how well they shot it. They’re a very physical team as well, so they definitely used that as well,” he said. “It took us a while to figure out how to defend against the way they were executing. Eventually, we did and we were right there in the end. A couple of things, a couple of turnovers, a couple of missed shots, and a couple of big shots from them. [Things] Just didn’t pan out our way.”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

After remaining winless in four games, Edu braces for their final World Cup match against China on Saturday, hoping to finish their home stint with a victory.

“They’re a pretty tall team. We’re gonna have to match up against their big men, but they’re confident as they’re coming off a win, so we just have to give it our all. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

TAGS: AJ Edu, Fiba World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.