Fit-again June Mar Fajardo says it's an honor, privilege to rejoin Gilas Pilipinas team
June Mar Fajardo with former college rival Greg Slaughter. Jerome Ascano

FOLLOWING his failure to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas the last time, big man June Mar said he is ecstatic to make it back to the national team.

The San Miguel center showed up for the first training session of the 17-man national pool under coach Tab Baldwin on Monday night at the Meralco gym, marking his return to play for flag and country following a brief absence after suffering a foot injury

He referred to his probable stint as a privilege.

“Siyempre masaya ako dahil nawala ako sa Gilas 3.0. Privilege uli na mapasama sa national team,” said the two-time PBA MVP shortly after the light, two-hour practice presided over by Baldwin.

“Sobrang blessed namin (17 players) na napili kami dito.”

[See Baldwin: 'It's nice to have cream of PH basketball crop all in one court']

Owing to plantar faciitis in both his feet, the 6-foot-10 Cebuano skipped the national squad's stint in the Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China, where Gilas surprisingly finished a strong runner-up behind host China.

Many believed Fajardo’s presence could have given the Filipinos a better chance of competing for the gold medal and earning an outright berth in next year’s Rio De Janeiro Olympics.

But the four-year center would rather not delve on the past and instead looks towards the future of helping Gilas in its campaign in the 2016 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“Sabi nga ni coach Tab kanina always look at the bigger picture,” said Fajardo. “Siyempre andun ‘yung pressure, pero focus lang dapat kami. Just do our best and ibigay lang yung makakaya namin.

Asked about the nagging injury that prevented him from joining Gilas the last time, Fajardo said he’s finally getting back to top shape and doing fine.

“Ok na,” was his curt reply.

[See Abueva attends Gilas practice after arriving from backbreaking Dubai games]

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