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June Mar Fajardo wants to be part of 2023 Gilas team



Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times June Mar Fajardo wants to be part of 2023 Gilas team Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  Kai Sotto June Mar Fajardo AJ Edu 2023 FIBA World Cup

For long-time Gilas Pilipinas stalwart June Mar Fajardo, the Philippines, along with Indonesia and Japan, winning the 2023 FIBA World Cup hosting rights brings nothing but joy to the basketball-crazy Filipinos.

“Siyempre, nakakatuwa kasi tayo ang maghohost,” said the reigning four-time PBA Most Valuable Player, moments after steering San Miguel Beermen past Phoenix Fuel Masters, 104-96, in the league’s season opener Sunday.

“Para sa mga Pilipino ito, na dito gaganapin yung World Cup.”

When the three-nation bloc got the nod from the international federation, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas then knew that the real work has begun, that plans have sprung up for the six-year timeframe heading into the 2023 tilt.

But maybe the biggest problem is which players will make up the pool come 2023, since the majority of the current crop led by the Jayson Castro and Calvin Abueva might presumably be past their primes.

SBP chairman emeritus Manuel V. Pangilinan made it known that the team is looking for players aged around 26 to 32 years old for the 2023 Worlds. “We have to start training them (younger players) now,” said the business icon and sports patron.

If that is the case, Fajardo will be past the age bracket set by Pangilinan, as he will be 34 years old by then.

Despite that, the proud Cebuano let it be known that he still wants to don the country’s colors by that time in home soil. Moreover, he wants to help hone future Gilas towers like 6-foot-10 Filipino-Nigerian AJ Edu, who will be 23 years old by then, and 7-foot-1 (and stil growing) Kai Sotto, who will be 21 at the time.

“Oo siyempre. Gusto kong maglaro doon,” said the 6-foot-10 behemoth, who averaged 11.5 points — highlighted by a FIBA career-high of 17 markers versus Chinese Taipei — in the first window of the 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers last November.

Furthermore, the five-year pro is already looking forward for the Nationals’ preparations six years down the road.

“Kailangan lang practice ng maaga. Paghahandaan namin yung World Cup 2023,” sais Fajardo, who has been with the Gilas program since 2013 and has a FIBA Asia silver medal and a SEABA championship under his belt.

“Maganda iyon kasi hindi na basta-basta yung sasalihan natin.”