Fajardo, Pingris still willing to play for national team

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June Mar Fajardo (right) goes for a rebound against Isaac Fotu of New Zealand during the group stage of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. CONTIRIBUTED PHOTO

June Mar Fajardo (right) goes for a rebound against Isaac Fotu of New Zealand during the group stage of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. CONTIRIBUTED PHOTO

Veteran campaigners June Mar Fajardo and Marc Pingris are still willing to don the national colors in future international tournaments.

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After hearing the retirement of Jayson Castro and Ranidel De Ocampo, the San Miguel Beer behemoth guaranteed the fans to stay healthy and competitive for another tour of duty with Gilas Pilipinas maybe in the 2017 FIBA Asia Championship and 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

“Of course, I’m very much willing to become part of the national team once again if ever they choose me,” Fajardo, the two-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Most Valuable Player winner, told The Manila Times on Sunday during phone interview.

“As far as I can play, I’m not going to refuse playing for the national team,” added the top overall pick in the 2012 rookie draft. “It was a great experience to play for the Philippine team. I learned a lot and it improved my game. I’m always available to play for the country anytime.”

The 6’10 Fajardo has the advantage because of his size, talent and vast experience.

Pingris also expressed his desire to continue playing for the national team.

“Pusong Kabayo yan si Marc [Marc is a strong hearted person]. He won’t retire yet, he will still play for the national team, he said,” Pingris’ agent Ed Ponceja said in jest. “You know Marc as long as he can play, he’ll do his best.”

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, headed by Chairman and President Manny V. Pangilinan, will revert to the original Gilas cadet program in terms of national team formation after the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

The selection of players under the Gilas cadet program will come only from the amateur or collegiate ranks without the involvement of professional players from the PBA.

But the next national team could still pick professional players depending on coaches’ needs and availability of the players.

Selected amateur players will be supported by the SBP financially and thus cannot be applied for the PBA rookie draft until 2019 unless they will be dropped from the national pool. The players will be competing in a home-and-way format in various FIBA tournaments.

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