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Edu ready to step up to the plate

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

More than anything else, it is the chance to wear the Gilas Pilipinas jersey for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup that pumps up Filipino-Cypriot AJ Edu, who has made a good account of himself during the team’s workouts the past few days.

“I think the most important thing for me is playing for Gilas,” said Edu, who stands 6-foot-10.

While the final roster has yet to be released, Edu is looking forward to the chance to do so.

“I love the challenge, especially playing against the National Basketball Association players and playing in front of our Filipino fans . That’s what you aim for, to be competing against the top of the top.”

If tapped, Edu could end up joining hands with his more celebrated contemporary, 7-3 Kai Sotto.

However, there is also the such a scenario is not going to play out given Sotto’s medical issues.

Still, Edu is keeping his fingers crossed that things fall in the right places in the coming days.

“I’m really looking forward to it. That’s something people had been talking about since we were younger. It would be really exciting to play with him,” said Edu, who was teammates with Sotto during the FIBA World Under-19 in 2019.

It is believed that should Sotto gets left out, Edu will be there to step up to the challenge and play for flag and country before setting sights on a stint in the rich Japanese league.

Playing alongside Jordan Clarkson is what excites Edu as well.

“When you see a high-level player like (NBA star) Jordan Clarkson, it elevates everyone else on the team and everyone wants to meet those standards. The confidence and the level have gone up.”

Like Sotto, Edu also suffered from injuries and he used it to learn from the best.

Sidelined by a sprain ankle, Edu closely watched Japeth Aguilar and JuneMar Fajardo do their thing and later used what he saw during actual scrimmages with Gilas.

Edu’s true worth came to the fore during the Chinese friendlies as the product of the University of Toledo was the squad’s most consistent front court player.

With Sotto still a big question mark, Gilas can turn to Edu as a solid Plan B.

The tournament kicks off 25 August with Gilas facing Angola before an expected record-breaking crowd at the Philippine Arena.

Joining Gilas and Angola in their group are Dominican Republic and world No. 10 and two-time Olympic silver medalist Italy.

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