June Mar Fajardo has made it a personal mission this season to bring a championship to San Miguel Beer.
Six games into the PBA’s 40th season, the 6-foot-10 Fajardo has been averaging monster numbers for the Beermen: 16.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and a league-best 3.1 blocks per contest.
Although he only had a week of rest since coming off a busy schedule with Gilas Pilipinas during the offseason, Fajardo showed no signs of slowing down.
The reigning league Most Valuable Player registered 11 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and two assists to help the Beermen escape with a 79-76 victory over the Asi Taulava-led NLEX Road Warriors in an out-of-town game in Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
Fajardo won his personal duel with the ageless Taulava, who finished the game with 13 points and seven rebounds, though that game against NLEX was just a prelude to his titanic matchup with Barangay Ginebra’s 7-foot slotman Greg Slaughter on Sunday.
Matched up against Slaughter, last season’s Rookie of the Year, for only the second time in two seasons, Fajardo showed his maturity by taking charge when it mattered most.
The 25-year-old Fajardo scored on an undergoal stab off Slaughter, shattering the final deadlock at 72-all with 24.1 seconds left, before clinching the match with a free throw, allowing San Miguel to hold off Ginebra’s daring fourth-quarter comeback.
The youthful San Miguel slotman finished the game with 21 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks as his scintillating performance earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period of Nov. 10-16, beating out Alaska’s rebounding demon Calvin Abueva and Ginebra’s Joseph Yeo in the process.
“Sobrang nag-mature na siya ngayon. Sabi niya sa akin, he doesn’t want to win just the MVP, but he really wants to win a championship,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria of his prized big man from Cebu.
The victory vaulted the Beermen to 5-1 for solo second spot, improving their chances of grabbing one of the top two slots that would guarantee an automatic seat in the semifinals. (RD)
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