INCHEON, Korea - June Mar Fajardo had little to say about his impending match-up with NBA veteran Hamed Haddadi when Gilas Pilipinas faces Iran on Thursday in the basketball preliminary of the 17th Asian Games here.
The showdown will be the third for Fajardo and Haddadi since last year's Fiba Asia championships in Manila, but the first since the 6-10 Gilas big man's standout performance in the Fiba World Cup in Spain.
The steady rise in the reigning PBA MVP's game has continued here where he poured in 12 points, all in the first half, in an off-the-bench role as he dominated India’s big man in an 85-76 victory by the Filipinos.
Fajardo, though, would rather let his game to the talking.
“Hindi ko masasabing mas kumpiyansa. Basta ita-try ko lang ‘yung best ko para matulungan ko ‘yung team ko,” Fajardo told Spin.ph at the mixed zone of the Hwaseong Sports Complex following Gilas’ win over India in its debut game in the quadrennial meet on Tuesday.
Fajardo’s coming of age has earned praises from the entire Gilas team, with manager Aboy Castro even noting how the San Miguel big man has progressed since first going up against Haddadi in last year’s Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in Manila.
But Fajardo was quick to play down Castro’s statement, saying he will his rematch with Haddadi as just another game.
“Hindi rin natin alam ang mangyayari. Basta laro lang ako ng maayos at go hard lang lagi,” said Fajardo, who is expected to alternate with naturalized player Marcus Douthit in guarding the 7-foot-2 Haddadi and the other `bigs’ of Iran.
Gilas Pilipinas will be looking to avenge not only a finals loss to Iran in the Fiba-Asia final but also a 55-76 defeat to the same team in the semifinals of the Fiba-Asia Cup in Wuhan, China in July.