June Mar Fajardo vows to make his minutes count in back-up role to Blatche in Fiba World Cup
First-choice center Andray Blatche and backup June Mar Fajardo try to boost the undersized Philippine squad. Jerome Ascano / Dante Peralta

JUNE Mar Fajardo has accepted the fact that he won't get the lion's share of playing time at center for Gilas, but vowed to provide quality minutes in the Fiba World Cup starting on Saturday in Seville.

“Gusto ko lang makatulong sa team kasi sayang naman minutes ko kung di ko susulitin,” the 6-foot-10 PBA MVP told Spin.ph on Wednesday.

Playing behind naturalized player Andray Blatche, the Cebuano big man has slowly but surely shown improvement while playing much bigger opponents in tuneup matches that took Gilas to Miami, Florida, France and in the Spanish cities of Vitoria and Guadalajara.

The former PBA top pick scored eight points with Blatche in foul trouble in Gilas' 74-65 win over Egypt over the weekend then had eight points and four rebounds in a close loss to Dominican Republic on Monday.

Not really known for his speed, Fajardo has been trying to keep pace with his teammates as Gilas tries to use speed to make up for the size disadvantage.

“Kailangan namin i-outrun yung mga kalaban kasi malalaki eh," said Fajardo.

He is also trusting the system more.

“Tiwala lang sa system kasi kailangan mo rin makinig sa bawat detalye na ibibigay ni coach (Chot Reyes) kasi mahirap magkamali sa ganitong level na liga,” he added.

“Kailangan mong lumaban para sa bayan. Bigay mo na lahat ng makakaya at natutunan mo para makatulong ka sa team,” said the 24-year-old San Miguel Beer star center.

The Philippines marks its return to the Fiba World Cup for the first time since 1978 when Gilas faces European powerhouse Croatia on Saturday in Seville.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava