BIG men June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar will get their first real test with Gilas Pilipinas when the national team plays Chinese professional club Shanghai Sharks on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-10 Fajardo and Aguilar, 6-9, were among those named by Gilas coach Chot Reyes to the team that will face the Sharks - a strong team from the Chinese Basketball Association owned by Yao Ming and backstopped by three national players.
The lineup was announced by Reyes on his Twitter account @coachchot on Tuesday.
Fajardo is a first-timer for Gilas, while Aguilar will be in his second stint under the present national team set up after playing for the original Smart Gilas squad of coach Rajko Toroman.
But the two of them definitely adds size, heft, and athletic ability as they join national team old-timers and a sprinkling of players from the national cadet pool.
Both have wide international experience - Fajardo having played in the ABL with San Miguel and Aguilar having played US NCAA Division 1 ball in college - but this is the first time the two big men will be teaming up against foreign competition under the Gilas fold.
Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan, and Gary David - three players who like Aguilar and Fajardo are from teams that are no longer in contention in the PBA Commissioner's Cup - will banner the squad along with naturalized player Marcus Douthit.
Former Ateneo star Greg Slaughter lead the players chosen from the Gilas pool, which also include Kevin Alas, RR Garcia, Garvo Lanete, Matt Ganuelas, and Jake and Ronald Pascual.
The Sharks will be led by Liu Wei, a 6-3 guard who started for China's national team for many years, as well as a couple of players standing over seven feet.