Gilas woes mount with Fajardo injured

Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Gilas Pilipinas just couldn’t get all pool members in practice together.

Gilas was short in warm bodies again yesterday with Marcio Lassiter calling in sick and June Mar Fajardo showing up but staying on the sideline with a swollen right knee.

Fajardo stayed for about two hours at the Meralco Gym then left ahead of everybody to have his knee checked at a nearby hospital.

San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria has said earlier Fajardo and Lassiter have been advised by doctors to take at least a three-week rest.

Fajardo, however, was hopeful he would be in good shape, looking forward to his stint with Gilas in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the MOA Arena in Pasay City on July 5-10.

“I don’t think it’s serious but you never know. There’s a swelling so there’s something there, and we want to find out what it is,” said coach Tab Baldwin.

 It’s the same knee Fajardo injured on a hard bump by Rain or Shine Jireh Ibañes during the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals. It caused him to miss games in the Philippine Cup finals and in the succeeding Commissioner’s Cup.

Lassiter, meanwhile, was down with flu-like symptoms.

Naturalized player Andray Blatche is set to arrive tonight and may join the training Sunday or Monday. Jeff Chan, meanwhile, is still resting his injured groin.

With the cadets still competing in the SEABA Stankovic Cup in Bangkok, Thailand, the only players available for training are Marc Pingris, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel de Ocampo, Moala Tautuaa, Jayson Castro, Ryan Reyes, LA Tenorio, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Gabe Norwood and Bobby Ray Parks.

Greg Slaughter, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Paul Lee are out with injuries.

With all these problems, Baldwin is looking at tapping Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan to help them out in training. Almazan, however, can no longer be considered for the Final 12 to the Manila OQT as he’s out of the initial 24-man roster submitted by the SBP to FIBA.

Included in the list are Gilas cadets Mac Belo, Russell Escoto, Kevin Ferrer, Roger Pogoy, Kiefer Ravena and Parks.

“We just need a bigger pool. We needed it from the beginning, that’s why we had all those cadets in the Monday night practices,” said Baldwin.

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