Cebuano big man June Mar Fajardo may still be the big dog in the yard but he’s seen enough of the Gilas Pilipinas’ new cadre of big men to know that the men’s national basketball program is in good hands.
With 6-foot-10 naturalized player Ange Kouame, 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto and 6-foot-10 AJ Edu set to take the mantle, Fajardo is optimistic of the Gilas’ chances in upcoming tournaments like the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“Lakas nung tatlo na yun,” said the native of Pinamungajan during his appearance on the 2OT show presented by SMART.
The trio is expected to be the men in the middle when the Philippines competes in the World Cup, which is being co-hosted by the country together with Japan and Indonesia. The 19-year old Sotto is in Manila, and is preparing to rejoin the Gilas’ training camp. He is also joining the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s National Basketball League later this year.
Meanwhile, Edu is looking to get his career back on track after getting derailed due to knee injuries. He currently is suiting up for Toledo Rockets in the NCAA Division 1.
Aside from Kouame, Sotto and Edu, the Gilas also has lots of promising forwards in Cebuano Carl Tamayo and Gilas special draft picks Isaac Go and Tzaddy Rangel. Fajardo, who is trying to get back in playing shape after missing the past year because of a leg injury, also figures to be in the mix for the 2023 World Cup if the Gilas will still have him.
“Depende kung ano yung takbo ng panahon. Pwede naman, kung pwede ako maglaro doon,” shared the University of Cebu product. “Maglalaro ako kasi malaking karangalan yun.”
Fajardo has already played in the last two editions of the FIBA World Cup. He first played in the 2014 tournament that was held in Spain and in 2019 when the competition was held in China. (JNP)