by Waylon Galvez
It’s typical of June Mar Fajardo, the PBA’s reigning four-time MVP, not to take the credit even as he performed well during a game, as he would always point to coaches for preparing the team and for his teammates for the trust.
However, after the 6-foot-10 Fajardo put together MVP-type numbers of 17 points, eight rebounds and two shot blocks, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes stated the obvious as the Philippines rallied back to edge Chinese Taipei, 90-83, last Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“He was fantastic,” said Reyes of his prized center Fajardo, who terrorized the paint with different moves to the basket – most of it was against Taipei’s naturalized player Quincy Davis, who had three fouls in the first half.
“It’s a big luxury for us to know that we’ve got a guy like June Mar coming off the bench,” he added.
The offensive output of Fajardo came at a time when naturalized center Andray Blatche struggled because Taipei’s defense focused on him resulting to a six-point production – the lowest for the former NBA player since he donned the PILIPINAS uniform in 2014.
However, as the defense clamped on Blatche, it either opened up Fajardo down low or up against a smaller defender on rotation and he attacked the painted area.
“They have to pick their poison. They keyed their defense on Blatche, took away his driving lanes, and doubled him at every opportunity. But they can’t double-team both Blatche and June Mar. That allowed June Mar to operate by himself and got him a lot of opportunities,” said Reyes.
However, as expected from Fajardo, he pointed to the coaches and likewise his teammates for their trust on him.
“Kailangan lang talaga naming sundin ‘yung game plan namin. Nagawa naman namin,” said Fajardo.
“Medyo nag-relax lang kami sa first quarter, pero buti nakabawi kami sa depensa. “Nagpapasalamat lang ako sa mga teammates ko and kay coach sa tiwala niya.”
“Kung ano ‘yung pwede kong ma-contribute sa team, gagawin ko. Thankful lang,” added Fajardo.
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