OUTWORKED, outhustled and outrebounded by Westports Malaysia Dragons’ big men on Sunday night, Gilas Pilipinas big man June Mar Fajardo has vowed to put in the work as he gets ready to shift to the international game after an MVP season in the PBA.
Playing as the chief back-up to naturalized center Marcus Douthit on Sunday, the 6-foot-10 Fajardo finished with just six points, all from the foul line, with only two rebounds and an assist in 14 minutes of action in Gilas 85-81 win over the Dragons in a tune-up on Sunday night.
The anemic performance served as a wake-up call for the Cebuano big man on the need to adjust his game to the international game, realizing the things that worked for him in the PBA - where he is the most dominant big man - may not work for him overseas.
“Kailangan ko mag-adjust sa labas eh. Hindi na puwede yung seal ng seal so kailangan ko ring ma-work out yung perimeter shooting ko,” Fajardo told Spin.ph.
The San Miguel Beer big man admitted that since international players are bigger, quicker and more agile, he will have to be quicker to the rebounds and quicker to defend inside the paint.
“Kailangan din mag-box out dahil di na basta basta ang makakalaban eh. Matataas din tumalon,” said Fajardo, who also had to endure the sight of the Dragons’ Fil-Tongan forward Moala Tautuaa dunking over him during the tune-up game on Sunday.
National coach Chot Reyes acknowledged the need for big men like Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar to assert themselves inside after seeing them play together against the Dragons.
“Marami pa (to improve among the big men). When we had Japeth and June Mar together on the floor, they couldn’t rebound, so that’s one big thing. They’ve got to be able to rebound when Marcus is not on the floor,” noted Reyes.
Reyes is also working on new player combinations after activating Gilas pool members Jay Washington, Paul Lee and Beau Belga for the Fiba Asia Cup set July 11 to 19 in Wuhan, China. The national squad placed fourth in the 2012 edition held in Tokyo, Japan.