THE San Miguel Beermen’s loss to the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters showed that the biggest threat to SMB’s title-retention bid may be the Beermen themselves.
It’s not easy to ignore a 6’10” giant who just happens to be the reigning Most Valuable Player.
Somehow the San Miguel Beermen managed to do just that as they chucked up one three pointer after another – instead of passing the ball inside to June Mar Fajardo – to lose to the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters.
Credit the Rain Or Shine coach Yeng Guiao for his blood and guts defense on Fajardo.
Bruisers Beau Belga, JR Quinahan or Raymond Almazan routinely double-team Fajardo inside and dared the Beermen’s shooters to beat them from the outside.
And when the Beermen missed the Elasto Painters were off and running to start their high-octane fastbreak offense.
San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria complained about his team falling in love with jumpshots instead of going to their strength which just happens to be dumping the ball inside to Fajardo.
The Beermen could only convert 7-of-35 shots from beyond the three-point arc while Fajardo took only seven attempts from the field.
“Masyado kaming na-in love sa three-points naming. We never executed our plays, especially June Mar getting the ball at the post. Our strength is not in our outside shooting. We should get the ball to our big man,” said Austria.
Despite being denied touches Fajardo still finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Fajardo made a killing from the free throw line where he scored seven points.
Overall, the Beermen shot 23 percent (31-of-96) of all field goal attempts. The poor shooting was exploited by the Elasto Painters who ran at every missed attempt by the Beermen
Arwind Santos missed nine of his 11 attempts from three-point distance. Alex Cabagnot missed seven of nine.
“We took a lot of bad shots. That’s why they were able to run. I think that was a wake-up call for us. We were expecting Rain Or Shine to come out really strong. They did. I have to give the credit to coach Yeng (Guiao),” said Austria.
Meek, mild-mannered Fajardo may be one of the Beermen’s problems. The hulking giant may be the best big man in Philippine basketball right now but he is modest, humble and alarmingly deferential to his teammates.
While counterpart big man Beau Belga bellows and shouts every time he scores Fajardo is quiet and unassuming and just goes about his game. Fajardo makes no move to draw attention to himself. It’s almost like he’s too shy to admit that he’s the biggest, meanest and best player on his team.
His demeanor is definitely endearing. It’s so Filipino. And it’s also the biggest obstacle to his becoming the best player that he could be.
Fajardo must step up and take his role as this team’s leader. He must demand the ball and call out teammates if they don’t give it to him.
If this giant of a man can assert his leadership a second San Miguel Beer Grand Slam is looming on the horizon.
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