The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) recently released the names of 24 players who will comprise the pool for the Gilas Pilipinas Men’s team which will see action in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers slated on February 20 to 24.
Noticeably absent from the list is 5-time PBA MVP and national team mainstay June Mar Fajardo.
In a statement released to the media, SBP president Al Panlilio clarified that the SMB main man continues to be a big part of the program and that his non-inclusion in the upcoming tournament is meant to give him an extended break from national team duties.
“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 and will continue to be a part of the program,” wrote Panlilio.
“However at this stage, we believe that he deserves the extended break. The wear and tear of chasing a PBA grand slam and spending his days off with San Miguel Beermen playing for Gilas will take a toll on anyone,” he added.
Moreover, Panlilio added that the 6-foot-10 Cebuano will be called upon anew for the bigger battles ahead.
“We are looking to expose our younger players and work to build an up tempo team. As we said in the recent past, this is a development plan for the national team in preparation for the 2023 FIBA World Cup,” said Panlilio.
“We will need June Mar’s dominance and his international experience, and we assure all his supporters that they will see him wearing a Gilas jersey in the near future,” he added.