June Mar Fajardo finally attended his first practice for Gilas Pilipinas, Thursday at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
The national team is currently preparing for the 30th Southeast Asian Games which is set in the country on November 30 to December 15.
The usual Monday evening practice was moved to Thursday as most of the training pool members, including the coaching staff, were in Dubai over the weekend for a pair of 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup games.
“It was great to see June Mar. He just makes the team look different. He makes everything look different out there. I didn’t have to instruct him one thing. All he did was watch what everyone was doing and he picked it up just like that. His basketball IQ is off the charts. It’s amazing. He’s fun to be around,” said new Gilas coach Tim Cone.
“He’s just such a huge presence. He’s a confidence-builder. He just builds your confidence. They were running our offense and I was all, ‘Wow, look at those guys move.’ Incredible talent out there. Their basketball IQs are off the charts. And Troy’s a really good compliment to June Mar in terms of what he hope to do with June Mar,” added the 21-time PBA champion mentor.
The 29-year old Fajardo, who sat out last week’s practice due to an ankle injury, was joined by SMB teammates Chistian Standhardinger and Chris Ross. Marcio Lassiter was in attendance but did not participate in the on-court activities.
Other members of the team who showed up were TNT’s Troy Rosario, Jayson Castro and Roger Pogoy, Alaska’s Vic Manuel, Phoenix Pulse’s Matthew Wright, and the core Brgy. Ginebra group of Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter, LA Tenorio, Art dela Cruz, Scottie Thompson and Stanley Pringle.
“We came in just trying to do a couple of things and we did these things well, they did it quickly, they did it fast. We had a fast practice. We finished in about an hour and 30. That’s our target. We don’t want to spend the whole two hours. You do a two-hour practice, you’re gonna need a lot of conditioning. We’re not gonna do conditioning here. It’s really about cerebral stuff,” said Cone.
“We’re trying to be smart with our practices and make sure everybody participates, because if everybody participates that means we’re all on the same page. Today, our key words were ‘Same-page mentality.’ We want to have the same-page mentality offensively and even more so defensively,” he added.