AJ Edu ruled out of OQT due to lingering knee issues


At a glance

    Gilas Pilipinas defensive stalwart AJ Edu won’t be available for the national team during the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament due to a lingering knee injury that also sidelined him in the first window of the Asia Cup qualifiers last February.

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    AJ Edu reportedly suffers a lingering knee injury. (File Photo/FIBA)

    Initially thought to be on track to return and join the Nationals for their preparation for the July tournament in Riga, Latvia, Edu appeared to have suffered setbacks in his recovery which ruled him out of the July tournament.

    Gilas head coach Tim Cone confirmed the news in a text message to Manila Bulletin, also noting that Gilas captain Japeth Aguilar would officially take Edu’s big man slot in the lineup.

    Edu is joining Jamie Malonzo, who suffered a torn calf muscle, at the sickbay for the Nationals.

    “Both AJ and Jamie Malonzo are out of the OQT but both are still part of the program. He has continuing knee issues. Japeth Aguilar will officially replace AJ in the lineup from a big man point of view,” said Cone.

    Edu’s unavailability should be a major blow to Gilas chances in the OQT especially that he is poised to be Gilas’ primary defensive big man to go up against NBA caliber frontline of host Latvia and Georgia.

    Without Edu, more responsibility falls to the shoulder of 7-foot-3 big man Kai Sotto who should man the paint alongside Aguilar and June Mar Fajardo.

    Reserve big man Mason Amos is expected to be elevated to the main roster to take the spot of Malonzo.

    They will be joining naturalized player Justin Brownlee alongside Scottie Thompson, CJ Perez, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, Dwight Ramos and young guns Kevin Quiambao and Carl Tamayo.

    Gilas is set to begin training on June 22 in a closed-door setup at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna before the team flies to Turkey and Poland for a pair of tuneup games against their national teams.

    From there, Gilas will head straight to Latvia where it needs to finish at the top two spot of its group with Latvia and Georgia to advance to the crossover semifinals against the top 2 teams from the other group composed of Cameroon, Brazil and Montenegro.