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June Mar Fajardo back in Gilas for SEA Games

Cebuano giant and many-time PBA Most Valuable Player winner June Mar Fajardo is ready to answer the call of the Gilas Pilipinas once again as he is set to join the pool of players that will compete in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam this May.

The 6-foot-10 big man is one of a slew of big men that Gilas head coach Chot Reyes has chosen to hopefully help the team bag the gold in the basketball competition of the biennial sporting meet. The last time Fajardo played for the Gilas was in 2019, when he anchored the team in the 2019 edition of the SEA Games held in Manila.

Fajardo will be joined by young leaders Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos, who by May, will have finished their campaigns for San-En and Toyama, respectively, in Japan’s B.League. However, they will only have days to practice with this edition of the Gilas as the B.League concludes on May 8.

However, Reyes isn’t sweating it as the two are already well-versed with the Gilas’ system, having recently played for the team during their stint in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers last month.

This iteration of the Gilas is loaded with pros given the unavailability of the young Gilas players, who are currently preparing for their respective UAAP campaigns.

Aside from Fajardo, also in the 16-man pool are Poy Erram of TNT, Mo Tautuaa of San Miguel, Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra, Isaac Go of Terrafirma, Troy Rosario of TNT, Roger Pogoy of TNT, Matthew Wright of Phoenix Super LPG, Kevin Alas of NLEX, Robert Bolick of Northport, and Kib Montalbo of TNT.

The team will also have young guns in 17-year old Caelum Harris and 18-year old LeBron Lopez. Completing the pool is Gilas draftee William Navarro.

“We wanted to have a lot of more young guys in the pool but the SEA Games will overlap with the UAAP schedule. That strikes out a lot of our collegiate players,” said Reyes.

The team will start practicing on April 13 or as soon as the PBA Governors’ Cup concludes.

The Philippines has been a dominant force in the SEA Games basketball competition, having won 13 straight gold medals and 18 overall.

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