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Cone still banking on Fajardo, Edu


‘Everything is going to be important and precious to us.’


Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone dropped the idea of adding a few more players as he expects June Mar Fajardo and AJ Edu to return to action for the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

Cone said he is still counting on Fajardo and Edu despite missing the first window of the prestigious continental tourney due to injuries.

He said the inclusion of Fajardo and Edu in their trip to Hong Kong and game in Manila will fast track their integration to his system, allowing them to blend seamlessly by the time they see action in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July and the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in November.

Gilas made short work of Hong Kong, 94-64, last Thursday and are now facing Chinese Taipei at press time.

“We expect June Mar and AJ to be back for us and play in the OQT in July and the next window in November,” said Cone, who won his 25 titles in the Philippine Basketball Association using a system that banks on chemistry and familiarity.

“That’s why even though he’s not playing in this window, we brought AJ here to absorb our system the fastest way possible.”

Edu has been sidelined with a meniscus injury, forcing Cone to give old hand Japeth Aguilar a call up to fill the huge void at the shaded lane.

Fajardo, on the other hand, is dealing with calf injury that he suffered in Game 4 of San Miguel Beer’s best-of-seven title series against Magnolia in the recent Commissioner’s Cup.

“I’m gonna be out for this window because of my meniscus injury,” Edu said.

“But I’m due to recover, hopefully in a month or two and finish off my season in the (Japan) B. League and be good enough to go for the OQT (Olympic Qualifying Tournament).”

“For this window, I will not be a part in terms of playing, but I’m really blessed to be still out here and support the team, just learn the system and what Coach Tim has envisioned for this squad.”

Cone reiterated that the team’s vision is geared towards making the Olympics whether in Paris this year or in Los Angeles four years from now.

“I’m excited to be a part of it. We have a vision and everything starts with a vision and now, we have a vision, a goal in mind and it’s all about the process of how we get there, day-to-day, everyday. The practice we had today will be as important as the practice three years from now, where we prepare for the World Cup. Everything is going to be important and precious to us,” Cone said.

“Our goal is really to make the Olympics whether we make it in Paris or in LA, but to get there, it starts with a process by winning the OQT or becoming the top Asian team in the World Cup, which will give us an automatic seat to the Olympics.”

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