ANDRAY Blatche paid tribute to June Mar Fajardo for stepping up when the naturalized player got into foul trouble in a win over Kazakhstan that enabled the Philippines to clinch a spot in the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup.
After playing for only three minutes in their previous game against Qatar because of the flur, Fajardo delivered nine points and seven rebounds in just 12 minutes in Gilas’ 93-75 win over Kazakhstan in Astana.
“I got into foul trouble and I tip my hat to June Mar. He came in and he was really the game-changer for us and took over the game for us,” said Blatche.
National coach Yeng Guiao agreed.
“It was important that we were able to survive the foul troubles we were in. As (Blatche) mentioned, another big man June Mar Fajardo just took over when he (Blatche) was on the bench. That’s a key situation for us,” said Guiao.
Fajardo, a five-time PBA MVP, was not the only local to step up. Jayson Castro hit key three-pointers when Team Pilipinas pulled away in the second half while Japeth Aguilar helped Fajardo hold the fort in Blatche's absence.
“Jayson made key three-point shots that put some distance on the Kazakh team. We are just happy it’s over. And we are glad we are making it to the World Cup,” said Guiao.