RENALDO Balkman was no longer surprised to see former teammate June Mar Fajardo knocking down one midrange jumper after another when Mighty Sport engaged Gilas Pilipinas in a competitive tune-up game on Monday night at the Meralco gym.
The talented import said he has seen the five-time PBA MVP honing his outside shots during practices at the time the two of them were still playing together under the San Miguel Beer banner.
“I always knew he could shoot. He’s been working on it for what I can see, and he’s been knocking it down,” disclosed the import who last suited up for the Beermen in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup. “If you work on it, you will perfect it. He’s been working on that jump shot and that’s what he do.”
Not only did the 6-foot-10 Fajardo punish Mighty Sports with his strength and size down low, but he also let the opposition pay the price by converting his shots from 18 feet and beyond time and again, keeping Gilas afloat against an opposition mainly composed of former PBA imports led by Balkman, Eugene Phelps, Hamady Ndiaye, and Zachary Graham.
The game ended in an 85-85 draw.
Balkman said it was nice playing against Fajardo in a competitive game again.
“From practice with San Miguel to playing against him right now. It was just a tune-up game, but we’re both trying to accomplish something and get better,” he said. “It was great to be back with him, and play against him tonight.”
Despite playing on the opposite side, Balkman said Fajardo is like his brother, and ‘will always be my brother.’
“Every time we step on the court, we’re going to fight, we’re going at each other. We always play hard every time we get out on the court,” he said. “I wish him the best also. He played well tonight. I’m happy for him.”
In all, Balkman sees Gilas Pilipinas as a great team even though it is still a couple of men down especially with naturalized player Andray Blatche yet to arrive from the U.S.
“Tonight they were killing us in transition. And they definitely got shooters,” he said of coach Yeng Guiao’s boys. “And the pieces that they missed in Andray, they’re going to do pretty well in the World Cup. I wish them the best of luck.”