San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria acknowledged how valuable June Mar Fajardo is in the team’s current campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Unleashing the old form that made him a six-time most valuable player awardee, the lumbering Fajardo cut loose with 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Beermen to 99-80 win over Blackwater on Wednesday at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City.
“I am happy for him (Fajardo) because I can see he really wanted to get back to his old form and slowly nakikita natin dominance nila (Beermen) inside,” said Austria, visibly impressed with the way the Beermen fashioned their third straight win.
“What he (Fajardo) had shown this afternoon is enough form him to gain some confidence and then he will realize he’s getting back to his old form,” added Austria.
Fajardo, who missed to join SMB in the Clark bubble last year because of knee injury, was one of the seven Beermen, who finished in double figures in a game they reduced to workout in preparation for their next two tough outings.
Fajardo drew ample support from a mix of fellow veterans and second stringers in Jaymar Perez, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, Paul Christian Zamar, Von Pessumal and Arwind Santos as SMB sent the Elite reeling to their fourth straight loss.
“Our veterans stepped up, and with the support of the bench, na sustain namin ‘yung lead sa second half. It’s a collective effort,” said Austria.
Still, Austria appeared magnanimous despite the win, stressing that the Beermen actually groped for form in the early goings.
“We know from the start that this will not be an easy game for us. Nakita naman in the first half, we’re just leading by one point at the end of the first half, lumamang kami pero na wipe out agad,” noted Austria.
“This team (Blackwater) is really trying hard to exert some effort and they (Elite) showed it this afternoon and I think it’s just a matter time the team would be competitive,” he said.
The Beermen finally seized control of the game only in the third where they led by as many as 69-53 which they gamely protected en route to the victory.
The Elite had three of them finishing in double figures, with Simon Enciso scoring game-high 25 points and Mike Tolomia and Kelly Nabong chipping in 12 points each but their effort was simply not enough to surpass that of the Beermen.
San Miguel (99)—Fajardo 16, Jaymar Perez 14, Lassiter 13, Cabagnot 12, Zamar 11, Pessumal 10, Santos 10, Ross 5, Gotladera 2, Comboy 2, Gamalinda 2, Tautuaa 2, Romeo 0, Sena 0.
Blackwater (80)—Enciso 25, Tolomia 12, Nabong 12, Daquioag 9, Desiderio 5, Richard Escoto 5, Canaleta 4, Amer 4, Magat 2, Acuno 2, A. Paras 0, D. Semerad 0, Gabriel 0, Dennison 0, Tottalba 0.
Quarterscores: 20-11, 39-38, 69-53, 90-80
Games Friday (Ynares Arena, Pasig City)
12:30 p.m. –Terrafirma vs Magnolia
3 p.m. –TNT T Giga vs. Rain or Shine
6 p.m. –Ginebra vs. NorthPort