Fajardo still a 'big part' of Gilas despite exclusion in new pool
QUEZON, Philippines – June Mar Fajardo was conspicuously left out of Gilas Pilipinas' new pool, but the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) clarified the San Miguel stalwart remains a big part of the national team program.
Fajardo won't see action in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers as the SBP decided to "expose our younger players" and build an "uptempo team" in preparation for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
"It's the early days in our program so we wanted to test youngsters who may be deserving of a shot in future big tournaments," said SBP president Al Panlilio in an official statement.
"We all know what we can get from June Mar Fajardo as he has proven himself time and again on the international stage. He has served Gilas for so long and will continue to be a part of the program."
Panlilio added the SBP wants to give the national team veteran a break after playing non-stop basketball in 2019.
Fajardo represented the Philippines in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games all the while leading San Miguel to two PBA titles.
"The wear and tear of chasing a PBA Grand Slam and spending his off days with the San Miguel Beermen playing for Gilas will take a toll on anyone," Panlilio said.
Panlilio assured fans of the reigning five-time PBA MVP that he will don the national colors in the future, particularly the 2023 World Cup, which the country will host together with Japan and Indonesia.
"Fajardo remains to be a big part of the future for the Gilas program," Panlilio said.
"He will in fact be at his peak form when the World Cup 2023 comes along. He'll even be an eight-time PBA MVP by that time." – Rappler.com