by Waylon Galvez
The campaign of Gilas Pilipinas Youth in the FIBA Under-19 World Cup suffered a major blow Saturday after 6-foot-10 Fil-Cypriot AJ Edu went down with a crushing right knee injury in the opener against Greece at the Heraklion Indoor Sports Arena in Heraklion, Greece.
Edu crashed to the floor as he drove to the basket at the 7:57 mark, grimacing and clutching his knee. According to physical therapist George Yorobe, initial MRI tests indicated tears on both the anterior and meniscal ligaments, as well as a hairline fracture on the femur bone.
“After the MRI was done we requested an initial reading from the radiologist on duty,” said Yorobe. “The official results will be released Monday once the hospital’s orthopedic doctor read and reviewed the MRI images.”
The team PT said they also requested the orthopedic doctor of FIBA to personally check on Edu’s condition.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said the local association would help Edu – an incoming sophomore at the University of Toledo in the US NCAA – as he deals with this injury.
“We are saddened by the injury of AJ Edu,” said Panlilio in a statement.
The absence of Edu against Greece left a big void inside as the Philippines absorbed an 85-69 setback. He was supposed to form a ‘Twin Tower’ alignment with 7-foot-2 center Kai Sotto.
Without Edu, Sotto, as well as 6-foot-10 Geo Chiu and 6-foot-8 Carl Tamayo lapsed into foul trouble against the Greeks, propping up a big concern in the game with Argentina at 1 a.m. Monday Manila time).
“We fouled too much (against Greece), gave up a lot of offensive rebounds,” said coach Sandy Arespacochaga. “ Our defense has to be better so we will go over it tomorrow. We have to execute better also.”
Sotto, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds against Greece, will again be the focal point on both ends for the Filipinos, with backing from Chiu and Tamayo, as well as Gerry Abadiano, Dave Ildefonso, Terrence Fortea and Filipino-Italian point guard Dalph Panopio.