By Peter Atencio
The San Miguel Beermen are back in the finals after three years.
And JuneMar Fajardo felt good about it as defensive efforts to stop him went for naught. He led the Beermen with 29 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and a block in repulsing the Meralco Bolts, 100-89, Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
The 6’10” Fajardo and Jericho Cruz scored key baskets in the last period as the Beermen allowed only eight Bolts players to score and advanced to the 2022 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup Finals against the Talk N Text Tropang Giga.
“Matagal na kaming hindi nakakaabot sa finals, three years na. Team effort talaga ang pinalabas namin,” said Fajardo, who is set to give away a big amount of money to charity with the baskets he scored throughout their campaign.
Cliff Hodge had 23 points for the Bolts, but he and seven others were limited to single-digit outputs as the Beermen took control in the final period.
The Beermen, who finished the series with a 4-3 win-loss slate, wasted no time in claiming the tempo of the contest.
CJ Perez, who knocked in 18 points, converted a turnaround shot, while Fajardo sank two charities in the last 4:55 to help hand the Beermen a 26-12 first period edge.
“It’s been a grueling semis from the start. We expected this because they know how to defend against our big man JuneMar. And it seems to be their problem. So, we just focused on their other starters,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria.
Fajardo was more productive in the second half, where he made 11 points, including a layup in the final 2:42 of the third rewarding the Beermen a 70-47 spread.
He knocked in eight points in the fourth, with his split charity in the remaining 39 seconds, allowing SMB to enjoy a 95-86 cushion.
Fajardo has so far tallied P172,800 from the baskets he scored throughout the Beermen’s campaign. And this amount will go to Fajardo’s chosen charity.