June Mar Fajardo says defense the name of game when Gilas goes to Fiba Asia
June Mar Fajardo knows the Fiba Asia is a whole new ballgame for Gilas. Jerome Ascano

HARDLY challenged in the Seaba championshiop, June Mar Fajardo now braces himself for a tougher challenge when Gilas Pilipinas begins preparations for the 2017 FIBA Asia in August. 

Fajardo was pleased with how Gilas dominated the tournament while building chemistry on the side. But the three-time PBA MVP knows they have to take things to the next level when the continental tournament kicks off three months from now. 

Defense will be the main focus when they can facer taller teams along the way like China and Iran, as well as newcomers Australia and New Zealand in the coming months in the World Cup qualifiers.

"Siyempre masaya kami na nakuha natin yung championship. Sobrang ganda ng pinakita natin sa Seaba. Sana madala natin sa Fiba Asia," said Fajardo.

"Yung chemistry nandoon na. Polish na lang. More on (improvement) sa depensa kasi malalaki na ang kalaban kaya dapat higpitan pa ang depensa. Kailangan lang i-work out," he added. 

With Andray Blatche around, Fajardo's burden was eased a bit - though he still put up averages of 9.2 points and seven rebounds for the tournament.  

For the San Miguel franchise player, he was just merely complimenting his frontline partner.

"Alam naman natin na si Andray yung main man natin. Kung ano lang yung ibigay na role sa atin ni coach, gagampanan ko ng maayos. So far, nagampanan ko naman," Fajardo continued.

And though Blatche's future with the team is still up in the air given the NBA veteran's prior commitment to his club team in China, Fajardo believes that he's ready to step up given everything he learned from the 2005 NBA second round pick. 

"Maraming natutunan. Leadership nya, grabe on and off the court. Nagpapasalamat kami na napunta sya dito at natulungan nya kami nakuha yung championship."

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