FROM the very beginning, June Mar Fajardo was clear on what he wanted to achieve this 30th Southeast Asian Games and that's no less than to win the gold in his first stint in the regional conclave.
And now that he's got one? Well, expect this to be placed at the top of his already stacked trophy case.
"Iki-keep ko ito hanggang sa tumanda ako, hanggang sa mawala ako sa PBA. Sobrang ganda," he said after the Philippines' 115-81 victory over Thailand in the gold medal game on Tuesday.
It's a fitting reward for Fajardo and company as the all-pro team lived up to the expectations and achieved the goals they set despite the disadvantages their side were dealt.
"Sobrang saya, sobrang sarap, sobrang proud na naging part ako ng grupo na ito na nakakuha ng gold medal," he said, before unveiling a sheepish smile. "Iche-cherish ko ito. Gold medalist na ako."
Fajardo also hopes that this triumph will make it up for the shortcomings Gilas had in the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China, where the Philippines went winless and ended up dead-last in the standings.
And the smiles of the 12,462 faces inside the Mall of Asia tells the five-time PBA MVP that somehow, it already did.
"Nalungkot tayo nung World Cup, pero napasaya naman natin yung mga kababayan natin dahil nakuha natin ngayon yung gold. Yung mga kababayan naman natin, siguro naman proud sila sa naachieve natin," he said.
The Cebuano giant, however, said that the nation's elation isn't limited on Gilas Pilipinas alone, with him also expressing his pride for all the Filipino athletes who saw action in the SEA Games.
"Kino-congratulate ko lahat ng medalists na atletang Pilipino, kahit mga naka-bronze o naka-silver, pati na rin mga di nakakuha ng medal," he said. "Proud pa rin tayo sa kanila."