Gilas Pilipinas will have to hold its breath for the moment as the PBA’s 2-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo sat out Thursday’s morning practice owing to a swollen right knee.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo, a cinch to make the final 12, showed up in civilian clothes on Thursday, informed Gilas coach Tab Baldwin of his injury, before leaving later on.
Fajardo left before the end of practice to have his right knee checked up at the Makati Medical Center.
“It’s tough, always tough. I just wished we have a bigger pool and I always wish the players are healthy, but injuries always happen,” Baldwin told FOX Sports on Thursday after the team’s practice at the Meralco gym.
The American-Kiwi coach said injuries that have hit the national pool just a week since Gilas resumed training have forced the remaining big men in the team to work their tails off in the practice that was cut off to just 2 hours on Thursday.
“I feel sorry for our big men today. They had no substitutes. Japeth (Aguilar), Ranidel (de Ocampo), Ping (Marc Pingris) and Mo (Tautuaa), they worked extremely hard in practice today,” he said.
“But that takes the toll not just in this pratcice, but the efficiency in practice and the next,” added the 58-year-old Gilas coach.
“Fortunately, we have a day off tomorrow. But they should be okay, and, hopefully, June Mar will be okay also on Saturday.”
Meantime, Fajardo assured Gilas fans his swollen right knee only needs ample time to rest.
“Okay lang. Di naman malala. Next time, kaya na namang makapag-practice ulit,” said the soft-spoken San Miguel big man, who first injured his right knee during the PBA Commissioners’ Cup. — By Richard Dy