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Fajardo, Thompson eye World Cup stints

PHOTOGRAPHS courtesy of PBA | June Mar Fajardo and Scottie Thompson are expected to be available for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup 2023.

Four players skipping the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia have made themselves available for the FIBA World Cup slated from 25 August to 10 September.

June Mar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Jamie Malonzo are expected to rejoin the training camp on 1 June.

Fajardo is still recovering from a medial collateral ligament injury he suffered a few months ago during the East Asia Super League.

He said he wants to play in the World Cup.

“It’s something you don’t see regularly that the Philippines will host a World Cup and that’s why you definitely want to be a part of it,” said Fajardo, a six-time Philippine Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player.

Fajardo made his World Cup debut in Seville, Spain in 2014 and saw action in 2019.

While undergoing therapy, the 6-foot-10 center said he went on a diet to shed excess pounds.

“I need to watch out for my weight that’s why I’m avoiding rice and carbohydrates and taking in more protein. More meat, very little rice,” he said.

Aguilar is another player who is still not 100 percent healthy.

Although he returned halfway through the recent PBA Finals, the six-foot-nine athletic forward still lacked his usual explosiveness.

‘I need to watch out for my weight that’s why I’m avoiding rice and carbohydrates and taking in more protein. More meat, very little rice.’

“We tested Japeth and he’s not ready to go. His target is to get ready for the World Cup. He really wanted to play for the SEA Games, but he hasn’t recovered his explosiveness yet,” Cone said.

“He’s got some pain. The coaching staff is worried that if he goes in and out of the lineup, he’ll have difficulty because the games are too fast, too quick. He can’t have the recovery time, especially in five games and six days. That’s not enough recovery time for someone who’s injured.”

Ginebra’s Thompson and Malonzo begged off for different reasons.

Thompson wanted to be on the side of her wife, Jinky, who is expected to give birth anytime soon.

Malonzo, on the other hand, flew to the United States to attend to some personal commitments.

Despite the unavailability of some key players, Gilas head coach Chot Reyes stressed the importance of bringing in players who are in tip-top conditions.

“It’s a difficult situation to put somebody who’s not a 100-percent,” Reyes added.

“We don’t know how effective the player is going to be and we don’t want to jeopardize their careers. Remember, our goal is to continue preparing for the World Cup.”

“Unfortunately, the players who are supposed to be there, are not here in the SEA Games, but it’s a very, very difficult situation. These guys we have right now are going to play together for the first time, so it’s important to bring in players who are fit to play. But the training camp is also designed more for team development — to build cohesion and synergy that is required — to win in the SEA Games.”

Reyes said he is more focused on preparing his team.

“We have our eyes wide open and there are a lot of players who are not here, but there’s nothing we can do about that. But let’s not worry about players who are not here and instead focus on the players that are here. Bottomline, we need to get that gold back.”

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