In preparation for their final game of the preliminary round, Gilas Pilipinas returned to the College of Notre Dame-Jamhour gymnasium for a light practice.
As they ran through the sets of Qatar, a pleasant sight greeted the team. After being eased in by the coaching staff, June Mar Fajardo was finally able to join them in practice. In the previous session, he isolated himself and did shooting exercises on his own. This time he was actually running plays with the team.
But while there was good news on the court, there was a bit of a worry on the sidelines.
In the morning of their game against Iraq, Christian Standhardinger was already complaining about pain on his right shoulder. It bothered him from morning practice until the actual game. He was still able to play though and even scored 16 points. But the pain worsened the next day, causing him to miss practice.
“It’s a bad case of stiff neck,” Gilas Pilipinas conditioning coach Dex Aseron explained. “He’s on a day-to-day basis right now.”
But while some deem these to be crucial developments for Gilas, Coach Chot Reyes chooses not to dwell on them.
“I’m not putting too much emphasis on those things,” he said. “If June Mar is ready, we’ll play him. If Christian is ready, he’ll play. If both of them are not ready, we’ll play without them.”
Standhardinger admits that the pain is at a level that may force him to miss the game against Qatar. But he’s still working with Coach Dex to loosen up the muscle and have him ready for the coming match. They even had a chiropractor come to the hotel and to check up on the Gilas big man.
“We’ll find out tomorrow how Christian feels,” Coach Chot said. “Same thing with June Mar. 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.”
“I’ve long ago given up on thinking of who are available. I just focus on who are ready to play.”