FIBA World Cup 2023: Why Cebu’s June Mar Fajardo and RR Pogoy play key roles with Gilas

By: Brian J. Ochoa, Immae Lachica - CDN Digital | August 25,2023 - 09:45 AM

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Cebu’s June Mar Fajardo and Roger Pogoy are among the players suiting up for the Philippine Men’s  National Basketball team, popularly known as the Gilas Pilipinas, in the FIBA World Cup 2023 that the country is co-hosting starting August 25. 

Fajardo and Pogoy will be joined by Rhenz Abando, Japeth Aguilar, AJ Edu, Jamie Alonzo, CJ Perez, Dwight Ramos, Kiefer Ravena, Kai Sotto, Scottie Thompson, and NBA star Jordan Clarkson. 

According to some notable coaches in Cebu, the presence of Cebu’s Fajardo and Pogoy is a big help for the team that is grouped with the Dominican Republic, Angola, and Italy.

READ MORE: FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023: Cebuano June Mar Fajardo among those picked by Gilas ambassadors as key players for PH

Mike Reyes, the brother of Gilas coach Chot Reyes and currently the head coach of the Southwestern University (SWU) in Cebu, says Fajardo’s presence in the paint will be a huge help defensively.

“It won’t be that easy for other teams to just dump the ball in the post ‘coz of his size,” Reyes said.

“At least may laban na tayo sa rebounding and maka intimidate na rin siya sa shaded area,” Reyes added.

(At least we have a chance in rebounding and he can also intimidate those in the shaded lane.) 

On Pogoy, Reyes believes the Talisay City native is also a key factor defensively. 

“He will be able to defend tall and quick guards of other teams,” Reyes said.

University of the Visayas head coach Gary Cortes, meanwhile, said the two can also help on offense.

“June Mar and RR play vitals role for Gilas,” Cortes, of the many time Cesafi champions, said. 

READ MORE: Cebu’s June Mar Fajardo excited about the prospect of playing a third World Cup in front of home fans in August

“When RR hits his outside shots, June Mar’s life in the shaded lane will be easier,” he added. 

Cortes also believes Fajardo’s experience is an important factor in the team’s stint in this prestigious tournament.

“June Mar is a veteran and has a lot of experience playing in international competitions, which Gilas can rely on. And with the current line up, Gilas is not an easy prey,” he said.

Fajardo a huge factor

This is the same observation of coach Edsel Vallena, a long-time coach of the Cebu Institute of Technology-University.

“Dako kaayo siya ug factor sa team kay naa ta’y pamaliy ni Kai Sotto unya naay siya’y experience na sa international basketball,” said Vallena.

(He is a huge factor for the team because there’s someone who can share the big man duties with Kai Sotto and he has a lot of experience in international basketball.) 

“Mao sad si RR Pogoy, legitimate shooter plus experience sa international game,” he added.

(Same thing with RR Pogoy, he is a legitimate shooter and has experience in international games.)

The Gilas Pilipinas will play their first game against the Dominican Republic on Friday, August 25, starting at 8 p.m.  

About the team’s chances in this tournament, Vallena believes, albeit difficult, the Philippine team has what it takes to be able to compete against the current batch on national teams of other countries. 

“Lisod man, pero akong tan-aw, mo compete ang Gilas. Dili sad sila basta basta magpa pildi labi na naa sa atong homecourt. Kay kahibaw ka sa Pinoy, dili na basta basta mo give up,” he said.

(It will be difficult but the way I see it, Gilas can compete. They won’t be a pushover especially since they have home court advantage. And you know Filipinos, they don’t easily give up.)

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TAGS: basketball, Fiba, Gilas, June Mar Fajardo, RR Pogoy

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