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THE NEXT BIG THING PBA: legend says Cebuano June Mar Fajardo will be a ‘dominant force in PH basketball’

By: Jonas N. Panerio September 06,2014 - 03:47 PM

Cebuano June Mar Fajardo carries on his back teammate Mark Pingris moments after winning over Senegal in the Basketball World Cup in Spain. Also in the photo is Andray Blatche. (

A day after watching the Gilas Pilipinas end a 40-year drought in the Basketball World Cup with an 81-79 overtime victory over Senegal in Spain, Philippine basketball legend Ramon Fernandez immediately shared his thoughts on the future of the country’s national team.

Fernandez, a four-time MVP in the PBA, said he is hopeful for the future of the Philippines in the world basketball, especially with Cebuano big man June Mar Fajardo, who is more known as “The Kraken,” finally being unleashed.

“He’s going to be the most dominant force in Philippine basketball for the next decade,” Fernandez said.

The local hoop legend, who was part of the 1974 Philippine squad that last won in the Basketball World Cup, said the 6-foot-10 giant from Pinamungajan town, midwest Cebu will play a vital role for the national team in future tournaments such as the coming Asian Games.

“I really believe that June Mar can do a lot more in the future. I think he can break all of my records and even win more than four MVP awards,” said Fernandez, who holds the record for most points, most rebounds and most blocks in PBA history.

Fernandez was quite puzzled with the limited minutes Fajardo played in the recent World Cup in Spain, where the Philippines managed to win just one of its five assignments in the group stage.

“I was very vocal about it from the very start. June Mar (Fajardo) should have been more than just a reliever for (Andray) Blatche. The kid is the reigning MVP of the PBA and he was second in efficiency rating only behind Pau Gasol [in the Fiba World Cup],” Fernandez said.

Nevertheless, Fernandez said he is pretty sure Fajardo will be the next big thing in Philippine basketball.

“I’m just happy that he was able to finally show what he can do. I’m willing to help him out even more.”

Asked about what the future holds for the Gilas Pilipinas, Fernandez gave a simple prescription: “More competitions.”

Asked to expound, Fernandez reminded this writer that between 1974 and 1990 when he last suited up for the national team, the Philippines was not able to participate in any competition abroad.

“Kami-kami lang ang naglalabanlaban sa PBA. So kulang talaga sa international exposure. In order to improve, we need more games against top-flight teams.”
(We were just playing against each other in the PBA. So we really lacked international exposure.)

That 1974 squad had the likes of PBA greats such as William “Bogs” Adornado, Sonny Jaworski and Francis Arnaiz.   Aside from winning against the Central African Republic, 87-86, the Philippines  also emerged victorious against Australia, 101-100.

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TAGS: Fiba, Gilas, June Mar Fajardo, Ramon Fernandez

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