GILAS Pilipinas’ Fiba Asia Cup bid has suffered a big blow – literally and figuratively – a day before the team officially leaves for Beirut, Lebanon.
A San Miguel official said big man June Mar Fajardo has strained his calf muscle and could likely be out of the national team seeing action in the August 8 to 20 Asian showpiece.
Former league chairman and team governor Robert Non confirmed the injury to Fajardo on Friday. He said coach Gilas coach Chot Reyes has already been advised about the bad news.
Fajardo is in fact sitting out the Beermen’s PBA Governors’ Cup game against Star after a copy of the medical findigs were submitted to the office of commissioner Chito Narvasa.
The 6-10 Cebuano has become all the more integral to Gilas' campaign after the team's longtime naturalized player, Andray Blatche, refused to join the team's quest in Lebanon.
His looming exit will leave Raymond Almazan and Blatche's replacement, Chris Standhardinger, as the only legitimate centers in the team for the Fiba Asia Cup mission.
The injury was suffered during the team’s game against TnT Katropa last Wednesday, which San Miguel won, 97-91. Fajardo led the Beermen with 27 points and six rebounds.
Unfortunately, he hurt his calf as he faked off a defender and went for a shot in the waning minutes of the match.
“Nung pinatingin namin sa doctor, pati 'yung isang kabila nasilip ganun din. Kaya ang advice one week rest siya,” said Non.
The three-time league MVP didn’t suit up in Gilas’ practice Thursday night.
But Fajardo will still travel to Lebanon with the rest of the team that is set to leave early Sunday morning.
“Sasama pa rin siya to see how the other teams play, especially Australia dahil nga makakalaban natin 'yun sa (World Cup) qualifier,” added Non.
Gilas is set to open its campaign in Lebanon against China on Wednesday.