BOCAUE — June Mar Fajardo felt a tinge of regret after Gilas Pilipinas’ gallant stand fell short to the Karl-Anthony Towns-led Dominican Republic, 87-81, Friday night in the Fiba World Cup at Philippine Arena here.
“It’s too bad. We’ll just bounce back in the next game. It’s too bad because we could have won,” Fajardo said after a losing debut in his third straight World Cup appearance, this time in front of a record-breaking 38,115 fans.
Fajardo was the brightest local for the Philippines with 16 points on a perfect five-of-five shooting to go with seven rebounds, holding his ground against three-time NBA All-Star Towns on the defensive end.
The six-time PBA MVP said he was just determined to contribute to the Philippines, deflecting the credit to his teammates led by Jordan Clarkson, who had 28 points before fouling out in the final three minutes of the game
“I did what I needed to do to contribute to the team so yeah, it was a team effort,” he said. “As long as I am inside the court, I will always do everything I can. I’m not playing one-on-one against other players, I just want to help the team.”
The San Miguel Beermen star admitted it was hard to stop Towns, who dropped 26 points and 10 rebounds on his return to the Dominican Republic team after 10 years amid the boos of the Philippine Arena crowd.
“He’s big. Good, of course, he’s an NBA player,” he said.
Despite falling short, Fajardo believes that putting up a gallant stand against the Dominicans was a still good sign ahead of their last two Group A games against Angola on Sunday and Italy on Tuesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We have two more games. Let’s bounce back in the next game,” Fajardo said.
The national team mainstay is just grateful to play in front of a historic crowd as he was cheered by the record crowd every time he posted up against the Dominicans.
“Of course, we’re thankful for the fans who came here. There were a lot of our fellow Filipinos who supported the team. I hope they will continue to support the team,” Fajardo said.