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June Mar Gilas knockout punch in KO showdown

MANILA, Philippines – It’s been exactly 12 days today since June Mar Fajardo hurt his right calf, and the guessing game is whether he’s ready to suit up with Gilas Pilipinas in the knockout stage of the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut.

It’s been 11 days today since he was advised by his doctor to take a weeklong rest. But he was also given another week for strengthening sessions.

But before leaving for the Lebanon capital, the San Miguel behemoth stressed the decision on whether he’s playing or not is on him. He vowed he would play if he feels in form.

On Sunday in Beirut, Fajardo finally rejoined his Gilas teammates in their morning light workout but skipped their game against Qatar later in the day.

But would he be available against Korea or Japan in the quarterfinals tomorrow?

Gilas coach Chot Reyes said they would battle with those who are ready to play.

“I’ve long ago given up on thinking of who are available. I just focus on who are ready to play,” said Reyes on a Sports5 report.

“We came into this tournament mentally prepared to not have June Mar. If he’s able to come in, then that’s a bonus for us,” Reyes also said.

With Fajardo riding the bench, the Nationals made a rousing showing in Pool B, sweeping past China (96-87), Iraq (84-68) and Qatar (80-74).

Gilas was further depleted with Christian Standhardinger resting a sore shoulder against Qatar. The Fil-German, however, is expected to be back in the quarters.

If Gilas gets past the quarters, the Nationals are likely to be pitted with Iran in the semifinals.

As the Pool B top seed, the Nationals avoid an early playoff match with Australia or New Zealand. It could probably be the gold-medal game if ever the Philippines would face any of those Oceania giants.

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