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SBP on Edu: He didn’t disappoint

AJ Edu can’t wait to strut his stuff for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup. (Photo from SBP FB)

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas sings praises for AJ Edu, making him one of the favorites to land a roster spot for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

No less than SBP president Al Panlilio was impressed by Edu’s performance, saying that he is one of the bright spots in the team that is looking to make an impact in the prestigious 32-nation tournament that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September.

Panlilio said they have been eyeing Edu to be part of the Gilas program since 2017.

But a series of unfortunate events, including a sorry injury that he suffered in the first two minutes of their first game in the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in Greece in 2019, deprived him of that chance, prompting the federation to wait before he suits up for the national squad.

This year, he was invited to join the Gilas pool but showed up limping with an ankle injury that he sustained while training in Australia.

With that, he was reduced into a mere observer during the first stretch of Gilas’ training in Laguna, Estonia and Lithuania before finally being unleashed in the 2023 Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament in China.

Edu posted a team-high 15 points with three-three pointers in their 75-63 win over Senegal before collecting eight points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in their 63-48 crushing of Iran-B.

Panlilio said the 6-foot-10 Filipino-Cypriot is worth the wait.

“He didn’t disappoint,” the SBP chief told Daily Tribune in an interview.

“He was there since the training camp started and even though he was injured, he didn’t miss a single practice. That goes to show the commitment he has in the program.

Panlilio refused to speculate but with Kai Sotto being doubtful, it appears that Edu has a handsome chance of cracking the final roster together with World Cup veterans Japeth Aguilar and June Mar Fajardo.

“His effort was rewarded when he was given the opportunity to showcase his talent,” Panlilio said, referring to the 23-year-old former Toledo Rocket who displayed flashes of his potential in the recently-concluded China series.

“He has the size, he can defend well and he can get those rebounds and even shoot the three-point shots. He has a bright future ahead.”

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