Gilas Pilipinas finally released the Kraken

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Fajardo recorded a FIBA career-high 17 points against the Taiwanese on top of eight rebounds and two blocks off the bench. He was the key in limiting Quincy Davis III who was absolutely balling for Taipei to start the game.

MANILA, Philippines — Well, Gilas Pilipinas finally released the Kraken.

June Mar Fajardo played his best game for the Philippines Monday at the Araneta Coliseum here, finally serving as Gilas Pilipinas’ main guy in the middle as the national team scored a tough 90-83 victory over Chinese Taipei in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Fajardo recorded a FIBA career-high 17 points against the Taiwanese on top of eight rebounds and two blocks off the bench. He was the key in limiting Quincy Davis III who was absolutely balling for Taipei to start the game.

It was Fajardo’s first big game in three years for Gilas, or since he scored 15 points and grabbed nine boards in an overtime victory over Senegal in the 2014 World Cup.

It was about time.

“I thought June Mar saved us. We got off to that terrible start but you know, it’s a big luxury for us to know that we’ve got a guy like June Mar coming off the bench,” head coach Chot Reyes said of the reigning four-time PBA Most Valuable Player.

“We made a decision before the Japan game to start Japeth [Aguilar] instead of June Mar, I had a talk with him to tell him that he was coming off the bench and he was perfectly fine with it. Sinabi niya sakin okay lang. Today he showed it, even in Japan I thought he had a great performance but today, he was fantastic,” he added.

During a 77-71 road win against the Japanese three days prior, Fajardo had a solid six points and four rebounds in just 14 minutes of play.

For June Mar himself, who made a promise to play better for the national team after he captures his fourth PBA MVP award, his trust and patience finally paid off.

“Thankful lang ako sa teammates ko at kay coach sa tiwala. Kailangan lang talaga naming sundin yung game plan namin. Nagawa namin, medyo nag-relax lang kami ng first quarter pero buti nakabawi kami sa depensa,” he said.

“Medyo [may pressure], pero tiwala lang talaga sa team, sa sistema ni coach, at sa isa’t isa,” Fajardo added.

 

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