The young Gilas Pilipinas big man gave a good account of himself against the perennial NBA All-Star.
Young Gilas Pilipinas big man AJ Edu was thrown into the fire in his FIBA World Cup debut. After all, he was matched up against not only an NBA big man, but a superstar at that—one who owns career averages of 23.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.3 blocks.
Karl-Anthony Towns was as good as advertised, dropping 26 points and 10 rebounds on Gilas as he helped the Dominican Republic eke out an 87-81 victory on Friday. Edu, in contrast, put up modest numbers of 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 27 minutes, mostly ranged against the seven-footer from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“It’s kind of a surreal feeling playing against someone that you only get to watch on TV and see on All-Star Games,” Edu said after the game. “But those are the sort of challenges that I love, and that’s why I play the game of basketball. It’s playing in front of a crowd like that with a challenge like that. I just loved the opportunity of playing against him.”
It was a challenge, all right, and while the numbers do not show it, Edu proved he was up for it, never backing down one bit from the 27-year-old, eight-year NBA veteran, who described Edu after the game as a "fantastic player."
Informed of Towns’ glowing remarks, the 23-year-old Toledo product remained humble and gave the world insight on his mindset in going up against world-class talent.
“That’s the whole point. You want to be competing against these guys, especially since that’s the level I’m aspiring for,” Edu said.
It is a lofty aspiration. But he is taking massive leaps to attain it.