JUNE Mar Fajardo had mixed emotions after Gilas Pilipinas’ 78-66 win over a scrappy Saudi Arabia side in its opening game in the Fiba-Asia men’s basketball championship on Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-10 Petron rookie big man was happy that the national squad won, but expressed disappointment over his tentative start in Asia’s basketball showpiece.
“Wala akong masabi. Na-excite ako na nape-pressure ako, pangit ng nilaro ko, nanggigil ako,” Fajardo told Spin.ph after coming out of the team dugout.
The Pinamungahan, Cebu native’s eagerness and excitement was reflected in his statistics - two points, two rebounds and four fouls in just eight-and-a-half minutes of action while playing behind naturalized big man Marcus Douthit.
The 24-year-old Fajardo said that even with two international exposures with the national team in Lithuania and New Zealand the past two months, the Fiba-Asia atmosphere remains a different feel for him.
“First time ko kasi kaya sana maganda ilaro ko sa susunod. Kailangan lang din maging physical ako saka mag-adjust sa tawag ng referees kasi konting bangga lang may foul na,” said the soft-spoken slotman.
Fajardo’s previous international experience was in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last year when he suited up for the San Miguel Beermen, who finished runners-up behind the Indonesia Warriors.