MANILA, Philippines – Even though June Mar Fajardo had been absent for more than a month due to throat surgery, it wasn’t a surprise to San Miguel that he was back to being dominant.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo, who will play in his debut game in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday against Terrafirma, has already been in game shape, according to assistant coach Jorge Gallent, even before he returned to active service.
After San Miguel defeated the importless-Dyip 131 to 103 at the Philsports Arena, Gallent remarked, “Even if he sat down for three weeks, but June Mar was already practicing for two weeks.”
Gallent, who is temporarily replacing Leo Austria as the head coach, continued, “We’re only waiting for the doctors’ advice that he can already play. But during practices, he still has the upper hand.
In his first game since suffering a throat injury due to former Rain or Shine import Steve Taylor Jr.’s unintentional elbow in San Miguel’s game against the Elasto Painters on October 9, the six-time MVP pounded his way inside for 20 points and nine rebounds versus Terrafirma.
The last seven games of the Beermen were missed by Fajardo, who just turned 33, due to a subsequent operation.
Only in the match against the Dyip was Fajardo finally given fresh life, despite the fact that he had been wearing his uniform and sitting on the San Miguel bench for a week prior.
The way Fajardo ran rings around defenders Eric Camson, Joseph Gabayni, and Christian Balagasay left Gallent with no doubt that June Mar had always been a superb player.
San Miguel’s attempt to make the playoffs received a major boost with the return of Fajardo.
The Beermen have now won two straight games, and they are back at even-strength (5 to 5), moving them up to sole possession of sixth place.
Meanwhile: With a blowout of TNT, Bay Area locks down a spot in the Top 2
Following a 140 to108 thrashing of helpless TNT in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the PhilSports Arena, BAY Area achieved its immediate goal of securing a coveted spot.
The Dragons finished their eliminations campaign with a fourth straight victory to finish with a 10 to 2 record, and Myles Powell scored 37 points in little under 31 minutes with plenty of assistance.
A top-two elimination finish and a twice-to-beat advantage over a lower-ranked opponent in the eight-team quarterfinals will be awarded to Bay Area although teams like 8 to 2 Magnolia and 7 to 2 Barangay Ginebra might still overtake the guest team at the top.
The team has prepared themselves well, according to winning coach Brian Goorjian, for the upcoming, more difficult matches.
The Australian-American continued, “I’m incredibly satisfied with the progress of our children.” We are here because of the competition because they have significantly aided in our development, for which I am very grateful.
TNT’s back is against the wall now that it has suffered its third straight defeat, dropping it to a 4 to 7 record, and its prospects of advancing are not totally in its control.
On Saturday, the Tropang Giga must defeat San Miguel Beer in order to tie them for a spot in the quarterfinals with five victories.
Another, albeit remote, option is that TNT will be one of the teams with only four victories, but due to their higher quotient, they will still tie for a playoff position.
For the first time ever with Chot Reyes as head coach, TNT would not advance past the elimination rounds if certain eventualities do not come to pass.
Only Roger Pogoy and JP Erram, who each scored 16 points and the majority of them after the Tropa had already taken a sizable lead in the game after Matt Mobley’s game-high 38 points, were able to support their new import.
Jayson Castro had a chance to make a difference, but he pulled out due to a sprained ankle, allowing TNT to suffer its worst defeat since being humiliated by Alaska in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals.