JUNE Mar Fajardo feels it’s the mental preparation – more than physical conditioning – that Gilas Pilipinas should focus on ahead of the second window of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers next month.
With the PBA players in game shape thanks to the Philippine Cup grind, it gives them more time to work on the other aspects of the game when they report for Gilas practice.
“Kailangan lang talaga magpa-kundisyon tayo,” Fajardo said after showing up in Gilas practice for the first time on Monday night. “Ngayon pa lang mag-pondo na, mag-work out kung ano yung kailangang i-improve sa katawan.”
“Pero siguro naman kundisyon na rin kami dahil may games sa San Miguel, so di kami mawawala sa kundisyon,” the four-time reigning MVP was quick to add. “Yung mental na lang talaga dito sa Gilas.”
With attendance lean on this day, the 13 players focused on the mental aspect as they fine-tuned their dribble-drive offensive sets with coach Jong Uichico running the practice that didn’t last an hour.
Fajardo was delighted to see the new faces from the 23-man pool for the 2023 World Cup in CJ Perez and Abu Tratter, who showed they can keep up with the present pool.
“Napapanood ko yung iba dyan, si Abu sa UAAP and si CJ sa NCAA, MVP sya,” Fajardo said. “Nakaka-impress at nakakatuwa din na makita sila dito kasi sila na yung future ng Gilas dahil sila na ang bata.”
“Nakakatuwa na nakabalik ulit kami dito,” he added. “May mga bago na nag-practice so sana yung preparation namin para sa February magbunga ng maganda kasi hindi naman ganoon kadali yun eh.”
After sweeping their games in the first window of the qualifiers against Japan and Chinese Taipei, Gilas resumes its campaign on February 22 against Australia at the opponent’s turf before flying back home to host Japan three nights later.
“Hopefully, naganda ang ilalaro natin sa February,” Fajardo said. “Ibibigay natin lahat para mabigyan ng magandang laban yung Australia.”