24 - 30
June 2022
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Ava Fajardo: Following ''ate'' Ella's advice to make the Philippines proud

AMMAN (Jordan) - Ava Fajardo won't deny that there is pressure being the sister of a budding Philippines women's national team cornerstone.

But the 14-year-old is hardly affected by such, using it as an extra push instead as she's set to introduce herself with Gilas Pilipinas Youth in the much-awaited FIBA U16 Women's Asian Championship 2022 set to tip off in Amman this Friday.

"Maybe a little bit, you know, 'cause they just previously won gold and everything, [they] brought that back home," she said when asked about the pressure heading into her national team debut.

"But, you know, all that pressure, it's just gonna go away. It's gonna make me better. It will be an encouragement to do better."

Ava is the younger sister of Ella Fajardo, who recently helped Gilas Women defend their gold medal at the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Ella, the 18-year-old point guard, has become a mainstay of the program, a journey that all began when she was called up for the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in 2019 that saw the Filipina hooper bag the bronze medal.

Two years later, she was then named to the senior national team after being added to the squad for the Women's Asia Cup 2021 in India.

Now, it's her younger sister who gets the opportunity to play for flag and country. And the younger Ava is bringing with her the pointers Ella has imparted.

"My ate (elder sister) is a very big influence on me," said Ava, who stands at 1.63M (5'4"). "Her being on the senior team, she's already gone through this. The first time she played was when she was 16 and I'm just 14, just two years younger."

"Some advice she's given to me is to never put your head down, keep going, stay aggressive, and always keep shooting even if you're missing. They're gonna fall in eventually," she added.

Ava is headlining the squad that also has Samantha Medina, Gabriella Ramos, Emaleena Elson, Kristan Yumul, Sierra Patricio, Hannah Lopez, Kailah Oani. Ryan Nair, Naomi Panganiban, BJ Villarin, and Camille Nolasco.

Gilas Youth are competing in Division B and will take on Indonesia, Syria, and Samoa in the group phase. It will mark the Philippines' return to the Women's Asian U16 tournament for the first time since 2011, and after not fielding a team in the previous two editions. 

Thus, the excitement on the part of Fajardo, who is also looking at the upcoming tournament as an opportunity for personal growth.

"I'm really happy and excited," she expressed. "This is a great opportunity for me to get better, and to get better as a person mentally and physically. And just to experience everything, I'm really excited."