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Antonio admits it's hard to fill Fajardo's absence in FIBA Asia

Junemar Fajardo's injury could mean more problems for Gilas' interior. (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—For Gilas Pilipinas manager Butch Antonio, June Mar Fajardo is among a rare breed of dominant players that his possible absence in the FIBA Asia Cup due to a calf strain is huger than everyone can think about.

"It's very difficult to fill the void [of someone with the] caliber of June Mar," Antonio told a couple of reporters after Gilas' final pre-FIBA Asia Cup practice at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center inside the Ateneo campus on Saturday.

While Fajardo said on Friday night that he might play out his injury in Beirut, Chris Standhardinger, Raymond Almazan, and Japeth Aguilar are expected to get extended minutes as Fajardo's playing time could be numbered. But it may mean that they are going to deal more with the opposing sides' taller big men.

Antonio, however, remains bullish that they will live by the national team's "puso" mantra.

"Knowing what's at stake and how Coach Chot motivates Chris, Japeth, and Raymond, I'm sure they'll play with their hearts out," he further said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno