NO one was more relieved to have Andray Blatche around for Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the 2017 SEABA Championships than June Mar Fajardo.
The San Miguel big man considered Blatche’s arrival not just a big boost for Gilas’ frontcourt but a necessary move to improve the Philippines’ chances of qualifying for the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup.
"Malaking bagay si Andray sa amin e. Kailangan natin manalo e. Sabi nga ni coach [Chot Reyes], hindi naman tayo pwedeng maging kampante," said Fajardo.
"Kung pwede natin siguraduhin ang panalo, siguraduhin natin kasi ito yung ticket natin papuntang FIBA Asia," he added.
Since Blatche arrived last weekend, Fajardo said that they've already picked up where they left off when he last played as the naturalized player’s back-up in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualfying tournament.
Now his main focus is not only building on that bond with Blatche, but becoming better in international competition as well.
"Maganda naman yung chemistry namin ni Andray so far," Fajardo said when asked about his relationship with Blatche.
"Pero talagang sa kung ano naman yung pinagagawa sakin ni coach, kung ano yung gusto niya, yun ang magiging role ko. Ibibigay ko lang lahat talaga."
The three-time PBA MVP has also taken a more active role as one of the veterans in Gilas, guiding and leading his younger teammates.
"Tiwala lang sa sarili. Sinasabi ko lang sa kanila na pag pinagagalitan sila ni coach Chot, napapagalitan din kami ni coach pag nagkakamali at expected na yun," said Fajardo.
"Sinasabi ko lang na kailangan lang ng tibay ng loob at tiwala sa sistema."