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    Fajardo beating self up as missed free throws prove costly for PH team

    Dec 3, 2018
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    JUNE Mar Fajardo is beating himself up for two crucial missed free throws that could've put Team Pilipinas in a better position to beat Iran on Monday night.

    "Nakaka-frustrate. Sobrang crucial nung mintis ko," the gentle giant said following the Philippines' 78-70 loss to Iran in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.

    Fajardo fished a foul from burly big man Meisam Mirzaei at the 2:20 mark of the fourth quarter, giving him a chance to extend a 68-67 Philippines lead and pile pressure on the Iranians.

    But he muffed both free throws and Hamed Hosseizadeh made the Philippines pay for those free-throw misses as his jumper gave Iran a 69-68 lead.

    The Cebuano giant did atone for those misses with a clean-up of Jayson Castro's miss that put Gilas back up, 70-69, but that proved to be the hosts' last stand as the Middle Eastern powerhouse finished the game on a 9-0 romp.

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    Fajardo finished with eight points and four rebounds, but that meant little for the four-time PBA MVP who rued the miscues that contributed to the Philippines' downfall.

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      "Sobrang nakaka-frustrate. Sino ba namang matutuwa na natalo, di ba? Ang sama eh," he said after Team Pilipinas went 0-2 in this homestand after its 92-88 shocker of a defeat to Kazakhstan on Friday.

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      "Sobrang hirap. Masakit, masakit na natalo tayo. Kailangan ko talagang i-work out yung free throws, lalo na sa endgame."

      The defeat - the Philippines' fourth in its last five qualifiers - was a big blow to the Philippines' chances of advancing to next year's World Cup in China, but Fajardo isn't giving up.

      "Kailangan nating matuto sa mga talong ito," he said, shifting his attention to the must-win games against Qatar and Kazakhstan in the sixth window in February.

      "Sabi nga ni coach, yung mga plays namin, di pa rin namin ma-execute ng maayos. Yung defensive schemes namin, di namin masunod. Kailangan naming i-work out yun," he said.

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      "Bago lang kami ditong magkakasama. May mga bago. Yung mga kalaban namin, sobrang tagal na nilang magkakasama. Kami, galing sa iba't ibang sistema at two weeks lang kami naghanda. So siguro kailangan pa naming i-work out yun."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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