Philippine national men’s basketball coach Chot Reyes played Japeth Aguilar and June Mar Fajardo heavy minutes during the squad’s tuneup match last Saturday against the PBA’s Barako Bull Energy Colas.
According to Reyes, the two young big men need a lot of seasoning as they gear up for the FIBA Asia Championship, which tips off in less than a month.
“We played Japeth and June Mar a lot. Those are the guys that need a lot of improvement on the team,” Reyes told InterAKTV.
Fajardo, the only PBA rookie on the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national pool, dominated his matchup against smaller Barako Bull frontliners Doug Kramer and Dave Marcelo. Barako Bull was missing its veteran slotman Mick Pennisi during the tuneup.
The Petron Blaze rookie admitted feeling jitters as the Asian championship looms, as he looks ahead to tough matchups against the region’s best big me.
“Expected ko malalaki yung kalaban kaya malaki ang pressure sa katulad kong bago lang,” said Fajardo.
Aguilar, for his part, is no stranger to riding the pine under Reyes, having spent one season with the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters when the latter was still coach. With a loaded Tropang Texters lineup, Aguilar saw his minutes on the champion team diminish as the season went on.
But Reyes has remained high on the Ginebra forward, picking him to be part of the pool because of his unique blend of size and athleticism.
Fajardo and Aguilar are among candidates to make the final roster of 12 men for Gilas, which is aiming for a top three finish in the FIBA Asia tournament to qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.