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Fajardo, Aguilar lead Gilas pool

A rock-solid squad featuring June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar and other professional stars will represent the country in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas on Thursday, 15 September confirmed the participation of Fajardo and Aguilar in the Gilas Pilipinas squad that will face Jordan in Amman on 10 November and Saudi Arabia in Dammam on 13 November.

They will join a bumper crop of talented players from San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and TNT Tropang Giga like CJ Perez, Scottie Thompson, Arvin Tolentino, Poy Erram and Roger Pogoy together with players from the Japanese B. League and University Athletic Association of the Philippines.

The federation, however, has yet to confirm the participation of the Japan-based players as well as the UAAP campaigners.

They will start training on Monday at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

The inclusion of Aguilar, Fajardo and other Philippine Basketball Association players in the Gilas pool is a confirmation to a Daily Tribune report that the federation already reached out to players from San Miguel, Ginebra and TNT Tropang Giga.

The source said the agreement forged between the federation, the PBA board of governors and San Miguel Corporation made the availability of players from the Beermen and the Kings possible.

In fact, the league had already cleared out the Commissioner’s Cup schedules of San Miguel, Ginebra and TNT from 6 to 16 November to make way for their participation in the crucial tourney.

“Based on their discussion, the SBP will get players from San Miguel, Ginebra and TNT,” the source told Daily Tribune on Wednesday, a day before the SBP formally made the announcement.

“They already talked to players like Fajardo and CJ Perez of San Miguel to invite them to their weekly practice starting Monday.”

Fajardo and Aguilar’s inclusion will add height, heft and experience to the Gilas side.

The 6-foot-9 Fajardo is a six-time PBA Most Valuable Player who has been campaigning for Gilas since 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Aguilar, on the other hand, is a regular fixture in the national team program as he was part of the original Smart Gilas squad assembled by Serbian coach Rajko Toroman in 2008.

With Fajardo and Aguilar on board together with former World Cup campaigner Perez and mainstays Erram, Pogoy and Thompson, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes is tipped to have a high-powered roster that can give the Jordanians and Saudis a serious run for their money.

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