Gilas in good spirits at FIBAWC photo shoot
Enzo Flojo on Aug 30, 2019 02:32 PM
June Mar Fajardo poses during the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup photo shoot at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural (photo courtesy of Matteo Marchi/ FIBA).
In the newly constructed and sprawling Foshan International Sports and Cultural, five-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo is leaning on one of the walls of the roomy practice court, which has been converted to a makeshift photo studio for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Directing the Kraken is Italian photographer Matteo Marchi, who is a regular in international basketball tournaments when not being one of the official photographers for the NBA's New York Knicks.
Fajardo, who has always been a little awkward under the gaze of the spotlight, is a little fidgety when being asked to pose, but he manages to do it as well as anyone who stands 6'10" can.
Not making things easier is the ribbing Fajardo is getting from his teammates, in particular from Meralco Bolts center Raymond Almazan, who appears to have taken on the role of de facto class clown for Gilas Pilipinas.
Raymond Almazan shows off his mean streak in front of the camera (photo courtesy of Matteo Marchi/ FIBA).
It typified the lightness of the national team's mood two days before they tip off their campaign on the biggest stage on international basketball, all for a chance to continue improving their world standing and perhaps, if the stars align, earn outright qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.Their first opponents, Italy, finished their photo shoot before the Filipinos, and the mood was, likewise, quite light. Marco Belinelli, one of Italy's marquee shooters, mentioned how they were preparing hard for Gilas, noting our boys' penchant for running the ball and scoring easy baskets.
One of the guys who will likely have to shadow Belinelli is a newcomer not just to the national team but to the World Cup. In fact, Robert Bolick is just in his rookie PBA season, and yet here he is, about to try his hand at slowing down someone who shot 37.2% from beyond the arc in 79 games for the San Antonio Spurs last season.
Bolick, though, isn't unfazed.
"Ang basketball pareho lang 'yan kahit saan maglaro at sino kalaban," he said. "Basta laban lang."
Rookie Robert Bolick is unfazed at facing anybody in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup (photo courtesy of Matteo Marchi/ FIBA).
Another guy who will have his shot at the 6'5" Italian sniper is TNT's RR Pogoy, who despite coming almost immediately from losing in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals, remains ready to take on all comers in China.
"Hindi naman pagod... okay pa," he said when asked if he was too exhausted coming off the Commish Cup series. "Excited na nga ako sa match-up kay Marco Belinelli."
The players and the coaches remained in good spirits throughout the photo-shoot and the subsequent practice session, all in spite of arriving a few hours earlier on the same day and amidst their personal concerns about not being able to touch base with their loved ones back home because of the shoddy internet connection.
They know the gravity of the task at hand, but for now they will enjoy being here first, enjoy the calmness before the craze, and the stillness before the brewing storm that awaits them at the World Cup.