Marc Pingris admits Fajardo would've made difference in Fiba Asia final vs China
Former Gilas teammates Marc Pingris and June Mar Fajardo exchange notes after the San Miguel-Star tune-up game on Saturday. Karlo Sacamos

MARC Pingris admitted that without a doubt, June Mar Fajardo would’ve given Gilas Pilipinas a major boost in the recent Fiba Asia Championship, especially in the championship game against towering China.

Without the 6-foot-10 Fajardo, originally included in the national pool by coach Tab Baldwin but who excused himself from playing to recover from a recurring foot injury, Gilas found itself short of a big man in their 78-67 loss to the host country.

“Oo naman, malaking bagay si June Mar ‘dun kasi kulang tayo sa malalaki eh,” Pingris told after Star’s tune-up game against San Miguel Beer at the Ronac gym.

“Pero wala eh,” he was quick to add. “Nandun tayo eh. Kailangan tayo lumaban kahit wala yung mga key players natin. Kailangan natin maglaro ng maayos.”

Pingris and Fajardo, teammates in the Gilas team in the 2013 Fiba Asia championship and 2014 Fiba World Cup and, incidentally, both dota enthusiasts, met up after the tune-up game which both sat out.

The Gilas Pilipinas mainstay, though, was so itching to play that he asked the help of a ball boy to assist him in some shooting drills after the game.

“Wala, konting pa-pawis lang,” the 6-foot-4 workhorse said. “Walang magawa sa bahay eh, so shooting-shooting. At tsaka na-miss ko yung mga teammates ko.”

Pingris has already reported back for Star since arriving from China, but has yet to take part in drills. He officially rejoined the Hotshots practice on Monday.

“Nakakapagod dun (sa China),” the 33-year-old power forward said. “Kahit sabihin mong  five, ten, fifteen minutes ka lang naglalaro, may shoot-around at practice pa rin sa umaga, so sobrang nakakapagod rin.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos