PLAYING his finest game for Gilas Pilipinas against Chinese Taipei in the teams’ first meeting last November, June Mar Fajardo knows he’ll be a marked man come the third window of the 2018 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
But the four-time PBA MVP isn’t stressing himself on replicating that performance, but is focusing on doing his role in the team.
“Kung ano yung pwede ko itulong sa team, yun naman ang gagawin ko,” said Fajardo.
The Cebuano giant posted 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocks in the Philippines’ 90-83 victory over Chinese Taipei in the first window of competitions.
Fajardo, though, expects the defense to tighten up on him in this away game against the Taiwanese, especially after he manhandled counterpart Quincy Davis III in their first meeting.
“Syempre kailangan kong galingan pa kasi mas alam na nila yung laro ko,” he quipped. “Pero para sa akin, nandoon naman si Andray (Blatche), so mahihirapan din sila sa kanya. Magba-box out lang ako.”
The San Miguel bruiser is hoping the team’s preparations would be enough for the away game versus Chinese Taipei on June 29 and the showdown against Australia on July 2 at Philippine Arena .
The national team took part in the 2018 PBA All-Star Week with the format retaining the Gilas players facing the PBA All-Stars from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
After that, the national team only had three Monday practices, and a session set on Tuesday night before flying for Taiwan on June 25. It’s only there where coach Chot Reyes will hold daily practices, four days before the game against Chinese Taipei.
Despite the circumstances, Fajardo is very optimistic.
“May ilang days naman tayo para magpractice sa Taipei eh. Siguro enough na yun. Kailangan lang natin magsakripisyo para sa isa’t isa,” he said.
The task may be tall, but Fajardo sees a good chance for Gilas, which currently sits at 3-1, to sweep the next two games which would help in getting a better positioning for the second round of the Asian qualifers.
“Kailangan ipanalo natin yung remaining games, pero hindi madali yun. Hindi madali kalaban ang Taipei, lalo na ang Australia, kaya dapat ibigay natin yung best doon. Hindi naman imposible na talunin sila eh,” he said.