Gilas Pilipinas will be one big man short as six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo has recently undergone an operation after he sustained a laryngeal fracture that might take him four weeks to recover.
The San Miguel Beermen star center is unlikely to join the Gilas campaign in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, pitting them against Jordan on November 10 and against Saudi Arabia on November 13.
June Mar Fajardo injury
Rain or Shine import Steve Taylor Jr.’s inadvertent elbow injured Fajardo whose recovery period from the surgery will keep him away from the national men’s basketball pool’s preparations for the fifth window qualifying games.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes confirmed that Fajardo would miss the action in their upcoming FIBA outings.
Sonny Barrios, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director and spokesperson, also said the same thing.
San Miguel head coach Leo Austria said Fajardo might not be able to return in time for the start of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs. He also noted that the procedure was necessary to prevent any future complications.
He could have entirely skipped the procedure but it will be
His absence in the Beermen’s October 16 game badly hurt the team that absorbed a 113-87 beating from the Bay Area Dragons who capitalized on their height advantage.
Austria said, “Talagang na-feel namin. Iba ang impact ng pagkawala niya (We really felt it. The impact of his absence is different). All our plays involve him. If he’s not posting up, we use him as a screener, as a roller and once he gets the ball, our opponents double him and that’s an opportunity for our shooters to have an open shot.”
The Beermen are struggling with a 1-2 win-loss card and will have to get their acts together until Fajardo’s comeback.
“Mawawala siya (He’ll be gone) for four weeks, he will miss five games, we don’t know. But come playoffs, I think he’ll be available. So the challenge for us is to get to the playoffs,” Austria said, adding that he hopes they win at least 60 to 70 percent of their next nine games to reach the quarterfinals.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo last played for the country in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam last May when the defending champion Gilas suffered a humiliating loss to Indonesia in their gold medal match and instead settled for the silver medal.
He also was not able to play in the Jordan Clarkson-led national team in the fourth window as the Beermen competed in the PBA Philippine Cup finals and bagged the title.
Austria, however, said they will only take in a fully recovered Fajardo and that they are not rushing him back.
San Miguel fans cheered on Fajardo and flooded his Facebook with messages of encouragement.
A Shirly Dumilig wrote, “Thanks God for your successful operation idol. Praying for your speedy recovery. Get well soon.”
Chona Ramos also wrote: Get well soon (Dong) Junemar. God protect and guide you always.”
EJ Tamayo, for his part, said, “Fast recovery Kraken! Get well soon, stay amazing lods (idol)!”