PRACTICE for the new Gilas Pilipinas pool is still a good four months away, but San Miguel Beer big man June Mar Fajardo relishes the idea of working again with national coach Tab Baldwin.
Fajardo, the only player assured of a spot in the pool that will be named by Baldwin very soon, admitted he learned a lot from the new Gilas coach the past two years when the American-New Zealander served as a consultant to Chot Reyes.
The soft-spoken Gilas top local big man describes Baldwin as a “strict teacher of the game."
“Parang strict siya (Baldwin). So kailangan mo talaga makinig, kasi may pagka-perfectionist siya, dahil kung ano ang tinuturo niya, gusto niya, magawa mo talaga ng tama,” Fajardo shared to Spin.ph on Saturday, shortly after a video shoot with Sports5.
However, Fajardo said the 56-year-old Baldwin is also fun to be with, especially outside the basketball court.
“Sobrang cool din naman siya. Eh nung nag-Gilas kami, marami kaming natutunan sa kanya,” he added.
With an eye on the next national team, the 25-year-old intends to rest during the conference break before rejoining the Beermen’s practice middle of next month when they start preparing for the season-ending Governors Cup.
The reigning PBA MVP said since the end of the Philippine Cup Finals, which they won, 4-3, over the Alaska Aces, he has been feeling some pain on both plantar fascia in his feet.
“Kailangan ko rin ng break kasi parang yung plantar fascia ko sa dalawang paa sumasakit," he said. "Last conference pa ito. Eh dire-diretso din kasi.”
“Uuwi muna ako then magpahinga lang sa Cebu. Saka na muna iisipin 'yung basketball, pero mag-shooting shoting lang muna kasi may ring naman sa bahay,” he added.
“Kailangan ko muna itong ma-heal para pagbalik ko fresh na.”
The soft-spoken big man out of Pinamungahan, Cebu averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds for Gilas in last year’s Fiba World Cup.
He banged in 15 points and hauled down nine rebounds in helping lead Gilas to an 81-79 overtime win over Senegal, the country’s very first victory in the world championships since 1974.