JUNE Mar Fajardo admitted learning a lot from some of the world’s best players during his stint in the recent Fiba World Cup as part of the Gilas Pilipinas team.
But no lesson was more valuable than those he got while playing and watching Argentina big man and Indiana Pacers veteran Luis Scola.
The Gilas back-up center was truly amazed at how Scola operates inside, which he said is nothing really fancy but very effective.
“Si Scola, `yung footwork niya grabe, kasi di siya fancy maglaro, pero siya 'yung tipong sigurado. Kasi moves niya di ganun kabilis, pero pag-release ng bola, sigurado shoot,” Fajardo told Spin.ph just before the Asian Games send-off for Gilas on Wednesday night at the Max’s Gateway in Cubao, Quezon City.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo scored six points, grabbed two rebounds, and added a steal in his brief nine-minute stint against the Argentines, who needed to scrape past the hard-fighting Gilas team, 85-81, after trailing in the first half.
Scola, who was in foul trouble against the Philippines and was 'posterized' by Gilas guard Gabe Norwood in a play considered as one of the best dunks in this year's World Cup, led all scorers with 19 points, along with seven rebounds and four assists.
While his playing time against Argentina was limited, Fajardo admitted observing Scola’s moves from the bench, hoping he could learn a thing or two from the long-haired NBA power forward.
“Ang galing ng timing niya (Scola). Dapat ko matutunan iyun saka siguraduhin ko na ma-shoot ang bola. Bahala na ma-block, okay lang yun, basta ma-release ko ng tama,” he added.
The World Cup experience, according to Fajardo, will definitely come a long way for him and the rest of the national team in their quest to regain the basketball gold medal in the Asian Games set in Incheon, South Korea.
The Philippine team has not won the Asiad men’s championship since 1962 when the team was still bannered by the great Caloy Loyzaga, and the late Kurt Bacchamn and Roehl Nadurata.
Although the opposition in the Asiad is not bigger than the one he faced in the World Cup, Fajardo said there’s still no room for him to be complacent.
“Basta kailangan ko magpalakas siguro dahil banggaan na ngayon (in the Asian Games),” said the San Miguel big man, who’s expec to have his hands full defending Iran’s 7-foot-2 center and three-time Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship MVP Hamed Haddadi.
Gilas is set to leave for the Asiad on Saturday.