AS expected, Cebuano center Junemar Fajardo is in the Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 line-up to the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament on July 5-10.
Fajardo who, along with naturalized player Andray Blatche, was guaranteed a slot to the Final 12, was joined by playmaker Jayson Castro and swingman Gabe Norwood with Jeff Chan, Ray Parks, Ryan Reyes and Troy Rosario to make up the final list.
“If you have the best people in the process you have the best chance of succeeding,” Coach Tab Baldwin said during the ceremony of the Final 12 last night.
Joining the first four players were Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel de Ocampo, Terrence Romeo, Marc Pingris.
Officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas led by president Manny V. Pangilinan attended the presentation, which was aired on Pangilinan-owned Sports 5 TV.
The Philippines is hoping to make it to the 2016 Rio Olympics in August and will have the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila this July 5 as its last chance to do so.
The Philippine team will take on France in its first assignment. The other teams hoping to score a slot to the Olympics in the Manila OQT are New Zealand, Senegal, Turkey and Canada.
The Gilas Pilipinas squad is currently in Italy, where it continues to struggle nearing the end of its three-week European training camp, suffering another one-sided loss to Italy, 106-70, in the Bologna pocket tournament.
A day before coach Tab Baldwin announced the Final 12, Gilas crumbled under the might of the Italians, who found the guns of Danilo Gallinari all too useful against the dribble-drive offense of the Filipinos.
Italy, who will also host an Olympic qualifying tournament in the City of Turin, used a wicked 22-0 binge at the start of the game on its way to build a 64-23 gap at the halftime.
Gallinari had 20 points for Italy while Blatche led the way for the Gila squad with 21 points and Terrence Romeo and Troy Rosario contributed with 10 points each.
As of press time, Gilas played Asian rivals China, who also lost their game to Canada in the other match.