AJ Edu returns to Gilas pool, hopes to make FIBA Final 12

Rom Anzures, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2023 11:33 PM

Gilas center AJ Edu during the FIBA U-18 Asian Championship in Bangkok, Thailand. FIBA/File.
Gilas center AJ Edu during the FIBA U-18 Asian Championship in Bangkok, Thailand. FIBA/File.

MANILA -- AJ Edu finally makes his return to the Philippines after a series of unfortunate injuries and hopes to make the Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 to represent the country in the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Manila in August. 

In an interview with Kom Noli Eala’s Power & Play, Edu shared that he is ecstatic to return to Gilas action. 

“Yes, they (Gilas coach Chot Reyes) have been in contact with me and honestly, that is the biggest reason that I’m here - to be part of the [Gilas] pool. [I’m] trying to earn my way into that team, that final 12. That’s the biggest reason I’m here,” the 6-foot-10 big man of the University of Toledo Rockets said. 

“I’m ready and excited. Before I came to the Philippines, I was in Australia, just training. Just really excited to showcase [myself] and go out there and show the ability that I’m capable of.”

For two years, the Cyprus-born Filipino center suffered a torn meniscus and was diagnosed with a torn ACL two times. 

But the 23-year-old bared that even with the injuries, it was his faith that kept him strong during those hardest times. 

“The biggest thing that I relied on was my faith, the people that were around me, the support system, my family, coaches, (and) teammates. Just (believing) through it all, trying to persevere, just knowing that the temporary time of not being able to play, of not being able to do what I love would come to an end eventually, which it did. Just a lot of good people around me and a lot of faith,” he said. 

And after enduring all of those setbacks, Edu is confident that he has all the tools to impress and make a case for himself to be included in the World Cup roster.

“I’m just going to enjoy the experience. It’s my first time being part of the Gilas pool, I’m just gonna enjoy the experience and try to learn as much as I can. The World Cup being hosted by our home nation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience so the biggest thing for me would just be learning,” he said. 

“I’m confident in my ability and how good I am. I haven’t been able to showcase that completely yet, but I think if I go into the training camp with the mentality of showing what I’m capable of, I believe I can make that final cut.”

Edu also shared that he would not be disappointed even if he does not make it into the final cut.

“It won’t sit in a negative way at all. As long as I know that I’ve given my best and have been a part of the process, I won’t have any negative feelings toward it,” he said.

The former Gilas U19 player then bared that it is also among his plans to play professionally, but it is still to be determined where he would be continuing his young career.

“After college, the natural progression is professional basketball, which is what I’m pursuing. As to where that would be, I guess time will tell. In the next few weeks or so, some news will come out,” he added.