TOWERING may be an understatement as far as the frontline that could potentially anchor Gilas Pilipinas in the 2023 Fiba World Cup that the country is co-hosting.
While there’s talk that young giants AJ Edu and Kai Sotto could already be old and mature enough to battle for spots for the 2023 seniors’ team, Gilas will still need the presence of its veteran slotmen to guide them and man the middle.
June Mar Fajardo is poised to be among the elder statesmen when the country hosts the basketball showpiece for the first time in four decades.
Asked if the four-time PBA MVP, who will be 34 in 2023, would still have plenty of juice left in the tank by then, Fajardo answered without a tinge of hesitation.
“Oo, syempre. Gusto kong maglaro doon,” Fajardo said after San Miguel Beer’s 104-96 win over Phoenix on Sunday that got its PBA Philippine Cup defense going on a high note.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes earlier gave an age range of 26 to 32 years old as criteria for the players that could make the 2023 roster, although he’s not discounting younger standouts as the 6-foot-9 Edu will only be 23 and the 7-foot-1 Sotto 21 by then.
Fajardo, for his part, will already be over that age limit, but he’s eager to extend the prime of his career to make this basketball-crazy country proud in the 2023 showpiece.
“Syempre, nakakatuwa kasi tayo ang magho-host,” the Cebu native said. “Para sa mga Pilipino ito na, dito gaganapin yung World Cup.”
And the 6-foot-10 center believes the six-year preparation for the much-awaited event is already more than enough.
“Okay yun. Sobra na nga siguro iyon,” Fajardo said. “Kailangan lang practice ng maaga. Paghahandaan namin yung World Cup 2023.”