Roger Pogoy thrilled to reunite with 'kuya' June Mar Fajardo for an even greater cause
Roger Pogoy and June Mar Fajardo played together briefly in a summer league while they were with University of Cebu. Now they're reunited with Gilas for the Seaba championship. Jerome Ascano

ROGER Pogoy is delighted to be reunited with former teammate June Mar Fajardo. And this time, for an even greater cause.

The Cebuano rookie guard was one of three cadets named to the Gilas Pilipinas roster for the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship on Friday night - an opportunity which he sees as a chance to rekindle a short-lived partnership with Fajardo.

“Masaya dahil magkasama ulit kami ni Kuya Abai,” said Pogoy, who joins Matthew Wright and Jio Jalalon as the only rookies in the all-pro national team set to see action in the May 12-18 qualifier for the FIBA Asia Cup.

Pogoy and Fajardo once played together at University of Cebu, albeit for just a short time.

“Dati kami nagkasama sa UC,” said Pogoy, who was three years Fajardo's junior. “Actually, graduating ako noon sa high school tapos sila nasa varsity na sa college.

“Pero may isang liga doon na parang summer league na kung graduating ka sa high school, puwede ka ng lumaro sa college team. Doon kami naging mag-teammate,” recalled the 24-year-old native of Minglanilla, Cebu.

[See Pogoy, Jalalon, Wright, Almazan, Maliksi are new faces in Gilas 12]

San Miguel point guard Brian Heruela was also a former teammate, according to Pogoy.

But fate intervened. Pogoy was a highly-recruited player down South and Far Eastern University lost no time in bringing him to Manila to play for the Tamaraws.

“Isang liga lang yung pinag-samahan namin, tapos nag-FEU na ako,” said Pogoy of his college alma mater where he won a UAAP men’s basketball championship in 2015.

Now their paths crossed again, and just like before, Fajardo was more than a willing mentor who is ready to take Pogoy under his wings.

“Siya ang unang nag-welcome sa akin sa Gilas (training pool). Tapos sinasabihan niya rin ako na ingatan ko yung career ko at huwag magpapabaya sa laro,”” added Pogoy, who is also being guided by another Cebuano veteran and former Gilas stalwart Dondon Hontiveros.

“Siyempre masaya dahil ito mas may opportunity kaming manalo para sa bansa,” he said.

Fajardo and Pogoy get the chance to play together before their adoring Cebuano fans on Sunday as Gilas Pilipinas battle the Cebu All-Stars at the Hoopsdome in Lapu-Lapu City for the culmination of the three-leg PBA All-Star week.

On Friday night, Fajardo and Pogoy were announced as part of the Gilas roster for the Seaba tournament together with Andray Blatche, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Terrence Romeo, Allein Maliksi, Raymund Almazan, Troy Rosario, Wright, Jalalon., and Jayson Castro.

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Fajardo and Romeo were originally part of the Cebu All-Stars to be handled by coach Tim Cone, but after being named to the national team lineup, their slots were given to LA Tenorio and Rabeh Al-Hussaini.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos