Lessons from June Mar
A different perspective may be gleaned from the recent dominance of June Mar Fajardo and the San Miguel Beermen in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup. So much has already been written and said about how to stop Fajardo and that should continue as long as “The Kraken” remains healthy and maintains his winning ways. Maybe it’s also time to look at what can be learned.
First, Fajardo’s game is anchored on consistency. His point production can fluctuate from a high of 42 (as in Game 5 in the finals against Magnolia) or near zero when he’s recovering from an injury. But Fajardo maintains his presence for rebounding and defense and makes sure that opponents know that he still remains a scoring threat even if the going isn’t exactly as smooth as the Beermen may like it.
Second, Fajardo knows how to use size correctly. Many big men simply bulldoze their way to the basket relying on brute strength to beat double teams or roll over smaller defenders. In contrast, Fajardo uses his frame to create just the right amount of distance from a defender and then uses his nimble moves for short range shots.
Third, Fajardo keeps his cool. He is probably the most banged up player in the league with double and triple teams on him in almost every game. Fajardo has managed to stay calm and hardly shoves back in anger when hit hard.
Fourth, Fajardo has redefined his game by improving his mobility. In the ESPN 5 coverage of Game 5 of the Finals, guest analyst and Ginebra assistant coach Richard del Rosario mentioned that Fajardo can now race up and down the court with greater flexibility than before. This seems to be a result of Fajardo’s Gilas’ stints where the extra work has resulted not in fatigue but in greater game endurance.
Lastly, Fajardo’s humility is not an act but a genuine part of his character. His willingness to share the limelight has made the Beermen starting roster one of the best in PBA history. He does not require the ball in the same way that NBA centers may need it to assert themselves.
In the conferences ahead, opposing teams will just have to continue to work harder to contain not only Fajardo but the entire San Miguel crew. The lessons from Fajardo’s game could also help in the long run.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.