If it were up to him, SMB team manager Gee Abanilla would prefer June Mar Fajardo to sit out the upcoming 2017 FIBA Asia Cup.
While the 6-foot-10 three-time MVP suffered a strained calf injury after the Beermen dealt bitter rival TNT KaTropa a 97-71 beating last August 2, Abanilla believes it would indeed serve Gilas better in the long run if Fajardo forgoes participation in the biennial Continental Cup tournament.
“Looking at long term, I think it would be wiser if June Mar will skip playing the FIBA Asia tournament, which is not a qualifying tournament for the World Cup or the Olympics. Gilas will be needing him more in future tournaments to come,” Abanilla said.
Starting this year, the FIBA Asia Cup will no longer be used as the tournament to determine Asia’s representative to the World Cup. Instead, an Asian Qualifier will take place from November 24, 2017 all the way up to February 25, 2019 to determine the seven teams which will represent Asia in the 2019 FIBA World Cup which will be held in China on August 31 to September 15, 2019.
Abanilla, however, insisted that the final decision whether to play for Gilas Pilipinas or not would still be up to Fajardo himself.
“Actually, si June Mar rin naman makakapag-decide niyan if kaya niya lumaro. Knowing June Mar, he’s been playing in pain for many games. Kaya niyang mag-tiis,” added Abanilla. – Mae Villarin