PBA: Momentum on side, SMB welcomes back June Mar with open arms
Philip Matel on Oct 27, 2018 10:48 PM
The San Miguel he Beermen rose to the occasion and hurdled its obstacles, and now welcome back June Mar Fajardo to the fold.
CITY OF BIÑAN -- Safe to say, the San Miguel Beermen were able to do well without June Mar Fajardo.
With the reigning four-time MVP out of action in the first nine games of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup, the Beermen rose to the occasion and hurdled its obstacles.
Losing import AZ Reid to injury, San Miguel called on replacement Kevin Murphy who turned up the heat and became one of the league's best scorers with 31.7 points per game.
This year's top draft pick Christian Standhardinger found his niche and played out of his mind, posting import-like averages of 25 points and 13.3 rebounds in the ten games thus far.
Still recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot, Fajardo just played 10 minutes and scored once in his conference debut, a clear indication that there is much more needed before being considered fully recovered.
"Nakakakapanibago. Nahahabol na ako ng kondisyon. I mean, syempre ngayon lang ako nakatakbo ulit. Masaya ako nanalo kami. Credit sa mga teammates ko," Fajardo said after the game.
In their final game against playoff hopefuls Meralco next Saturday, Nov. 3, Fajardo clarified he does not care how many minutes coach Leo Austria will give him but let out an assurance that he will give 100 percent every time.
Coach Austria says Fajardo, who admitted that he was avoiding rough play to avoid re-injury, has a long time to get himself going once more.
"Well, it's a good adjustment for us, especially June Mar. He could get back to his usual game. But it's very obvious na wala pa siya doon sa usual game," the three-time PBA Coach of the Year said.
The team seemed to have been lost, mired in a 2-4 record, but definitely bounced back due to the stellar play of Murphy, Standhardinger, and snipers Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot.
Standhardinger, who has manned the paint in the Cebu native's absence was ecstatic due to Fajardo's return and ensuing positive effect to the time, returning to their "best basketball."
"I mean he's a very important part of the puzzle piece but you still see he's just 10 minutes and he's still a little hesitant I think. So he's not completely back yet. But for the morale of the people, it means a lot for us to see June Mar out there again."
If they do not clinch a top-four seed or twice-to-beat advantage, Fajardo expects his team to follow their gameplan to have a chance in advancing to the next round.
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