SEVILLE, SPAIN - June Mar Fajardo played what was without doubt his best game in a Gilas Pilipinas uniform against Greece on Sunday night, making every second of his 10:06 minutes on the floor count while top big man Andray Blatche struggled with a knee injury.
But the 6-foot-10 Cebuano reserved his finest performance for the interview room of the Centro Deportivo San Pablo media center when, seated right next to Gilas coach Chot Reyes at the head table, he fielded questions from foreign journalists like a seasoned internationalist.
"I know we’re undersized but we put up a good fight," said Fajardo, his deep voice reverberating around the halls of the press center. "We just go out and play our best. We had game plans but unfortunately we lost the game."
Just minutes earlier, Fajardo finally showed glimpses of the immense potential that convinced Reyes to take him into the Gilas program two years ago.
The former University of Cebu star had already made his mark in the PBA by winning the season MVP honor but has not made a significant impact as a Gilas player until of late, when he started to blossom while getting comfortable in a back-up role to Blatche.
With Blatche playing on one good foot on Sunday night, Fajardo came into his own. He scored 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from the foul line, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots while keeping in step with Greece's towering big men.
The performance has naturally triggered a clamor online for more playing time for the San Miguel Beer behemoth, more so since he sat out a long stretch on Sunday against Greece after playing well in the first half.
Netizens have been bombarding Spin.ph's comments page and social media accounts with pleas for more playing time not only for Fajardo but also for Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar, who played no more than 5:06 minutes against Greece and didn't come off the bench until the fourth quarter.
The debate has become more relevant with the news that Blatche, bothered by tendinitis on his right knee, is listed as a 'game-time decision' for Monday night's (Tuesday morning, Manila time) game Argentina.
Reyes, though, insisted he will use Fajardo - and any player for that matter - as he deemed fit.
"That's why we're offline," the Gilas coach said when asked about the growing clamor among netizens. "If we listen to all the clamors, masisira ulo namin.
"(Fajardo) will be usedas the situation calls for it."