MANILA – After a very brief break from basketball, San Miguel's June Mar Fajardo and TNT's Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario went right back to work – this time to prepare for the 2019 FIBA World Cup with Gilas Pilipinas.
All three were key players in the recently concluded 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals, which the Beermen won in six highly competitive games. They all returned to Gilas practice on Tuesday, where they were warmly welcomed by their coaches and teammates.
"Ah, na-miss namin 'yung tatlo. Masaya ang lahat, nakita namin sila, nakasama namin. Matagal na naming hinihintay yun, actually," said Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao of the returnees.
Guiao was admittedly saddened that the trio could not come to their training camp in Spain earlier this month, as it had been crucial to the development of the team's chemistry both on and off the court.
"I'm sure they would have enjoyed Spain, and I'm sure we would have created even stronger bonds with a complete team," he said.
With just 10 days left before their first game in the FIBA World Cup, Guiao expects the three players to work doubly hard to catch up with the rest of the team.
"Sa practice medyo naghahabol pa sila June Mar tsaka sila Troy tsaka si Pogs. We asked them to come in 30 minutes earlier in practice para meron silang extra time to run the sets with the team, so they can catch up," he said.
"So they're very willing to do that," he added.
Fajardo, who cut short his celebration with San Miguel on Tuesday to attend practice, said he is doing his best to recover quickly from the grueling Finals series.
"Pag down-time ko, pag nasa bahay ako, kumakain ako nang marami, maraming prutas, tapos tulog. So, ayun, ginagawa ko yung best ko para maka-recover talaga," said the big man.
"Itong ten days ata yung sabi, sobrang crucial 'to para sa amin. So, ayun, kailangan maging healthy talaga, para ready pagdating doon sa China," he added.
Meanwhile, the TNT pair of Rosario and Pogoy are trying to get over the mental and emotional exhaustion of the championship series by pouring all their energies into the national team.
"Masaya kami na nakabalik na kami dito. And yun, kinalimutan na namin kasi pag iniisip mo pa, lalong made-drain ka mentally, parang napapagod ka," Pogoy explained. "So yun, focus na, focus sa Gilas para isa na lang yung iniisip namin."
Rosario admitted that after the Finals, he wanted to immediately go to Gilas practice if only to forget the painful ending to their conference, but he also knew that he needed a little break. He took a brief vacation, as did Pogoy, who spent time with his family after their loss in the Finals.
Now, the two say they are fully focused on their responsibilities with the national team – and it starts with re-learning all the plays and schemes.
"Una nakalimutan na namin yung mga plays kasi yun nga, ang daming plays na pinapagawa doon sa Talk ‘N Text. Pero ano naman eh, madali lang yung mga plays ni coach Yeng eh," said Pogoy.
"Kaya nga yun palaging sinasabi niya na yung lahat ng plays niya hindi mahirap para lahat ng players maka-catch up kaagad," he added.
"Once na nai-run na nung nanonood na ko, parang bumabalik. Bumabalik nang bumabalik. So ngayon may practice kami," said Rosario. "Nagsabi si coach Yeng na after ng practice, mag-stay kami at least 20 minutes para mai-run pa namin yung mga plays na kami-kami lang."
"Maga-ask lang siya ng dalawang extra body para tulungan nga kami. Sa tingin ko makakatulong yun para samin," he added.
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