Baldwin pleased with Fajardo recovery, expects giant to be back at '100 percent' for Gilas
June Mar Fajardo is back in action after an injury layoff - and that can only be good news for Gilas Pilipinas, says national coach Tab Baldwin. Jerome Ascano

GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin is pleased to see June Mar Fajardo return from injury in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, saying he expects the San Miguel big man to be '100 percent' when the 2016 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament comes along in July.

The 6-10 Fajardo made his finals debut on Wednesday, scoring 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 18 minutes - a sight that, for Baldwin at least, bodes well for the health of the big man who is being counted upon to boost the frontline of Gilas in the July 5-10 qualifiers.

Fajardo sat out Gilas' stint in the last Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China due to plantar fasciitis on both feet but Baldwin is confident the Cebuano will be part of the national team that will gun for a berth in the coming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Gilas coach also noted that SMB is taking a cautious approach to Fajardo's injury.

"I don't think June Mar is gonna be impeded by a knee injury, I think he will recover to a hundred percent. San Miguel is obviously taking a very cautious (approach) with his knee and that's good for June Mar," said Baldwin.

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Baldwin said Fajardo's long injury layoff and minimal minutes will be good for the plantar fasciitis injury that kept him off the national team last year.

"And I guess one of the offshoot positives will be that the plantar fascia issues in his feet will have time to rest now as well," said Baldwin, who plans to resume Gilas' one-a-week practices on February 15.

The major improvements in Fajardo's game since he last suited up for Gilas in the 2014 Fiba World Cup can only benefit the national team, Baldwin added.

"We have another whole conference to go through and June Mar will accept that challenge, he'll be out there on the court," he added. "He's been a great performer in the PBA for the last couple of years and we expect that to be a positive development to Gilas when that time comes."

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