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June Mar Fajardo ruled out of FIBA ACQ February window

June Mar Fajardo is out for the February window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. PSC-POC Media Pool (file photo) 
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG—Gilas Pilipinas' quest for FIBA Asia Cup glory begins without its main center.

June Mar Fajardo himself confirmed on Monday that he will not join the national team in the February window of the said tournament's qualifying phase due to a calf injury.

"Nakakalungkot naman kasi gusto kong maglaro sa Gilas pero sinabihan ako ng doktor na magpahinga," said Fajardo, who suffered the injury during Game 4 of the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals for San Miguel.

Fajardo's calf injury coupled with AJ Edu's meniscus injury prompted Gilas head coach Tim Cone to call up Japeth Aguilar to join the national team for this window.

Cone confirmed during the press conference before Gilas' open practice at the PhilSports Arena that Aguilar will play against Hong Kong on the road on Thursday night and at home against Chinese Taipei at the said arena.

However, Aguilar was also away when Gilas held its open practice as Cone said that his wife Cassandra had just given birth.

Cone, though, assured that Aguilar will join the squad in Hong Kong by Wednesday.

With only 10 players available for active participation in the open practice, Cone brought in two of his Ginebra players, Ralph Cu and Donald Gumaru, to complete a 12-man rotation.

June Mar Fajardo targets quick return

Fajardo also said that he has to take at least a two-week rest before he can do some basketball activities, in this case rejoining the Beermen in practice.

However, he also hopes that the recovery will be quicker than expected so he can jump back to some basketball stuff sooner.

"Sana mapabilis yung healing para makahabol sa Gilas," Fajardo said.

With SMB and Magnolia, the finalists at the last conference, expected to begin their PBA Philippine Cup quests a bit later than the other teams, Fajardo gets some luxury of more rest days, so he could very likely be available once their mission to complete the rare two-conference grand slam kicks off sometime in March.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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