|The SBP believes June Mar Fajardo needs a breather for now. Rick Dela Cruz (file photo)|
By Ivan Saldajeno
LUCENA--Many Gilas Pilipinas Men fans were intrigued when June Mar Fajardo was left out of the initial 24-man pool for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers February window.
In a statement on Friday night, however, the SBP, through president Al Panlilio, explained why Fajardo was not included to the said pool.
"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.... However, at this stage, we believe that he deserves the extended break," Panlilio said.
The 6-foot-10 center indeed had a busy 2019, from San Miguel's bid for the PBA grand slam to his stint with Gilas Men in the FIBA World Cup and the Southeast Asian Games, but the SBP further explained that the grand slam bid alone already made Fajardo too hectic.
"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," the statement further said.
Panlilio, however, clarified, "[He] will continue to be a part of the program.... Fajardo remains to be a big part of the future of the Gilas program. He will in fact be at his peak form when the [FIBA World Cup 2023] comes along."
Even without Fajardo, the Gilas Men pool remains loaded with big men as star PBA centers Poy Erram, Japeth Aguilar, Chris Standhardinger, and Marc Pingris and Gilas Cadets Isaac Go and Balti Baltazar are in it.
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