Fajardo hurts knee, won’t play vs Ginebra on Christmas Day
MANILA, Philippines — Petron Blaze center Junemar Fajardo had been ruled out of the Boosters’ much-awaited Christmas Day clash with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Wednesday.
Fajardo, unfortunately, hurt his knee during Petron’s practice Monday and already had his knee checked.
“We’re still waiting for official word on doctors. He had MRI. He stepped on someone’s foot and his weight shifted,” Petron coach Gee Abanilla told INQUIRER.net. “Hoping for the best but the initial reading is sprained ACL. Definitely (he won’t play on Wednesday).”
Fajardo, the six-foot-10 giant, has been one of the biggest reasons for the Boosters’ rise to the top of the standings with a 7-1 record.
And without the sophomore star, Abanilla admitted that it would be quite a challenge for his team when it goes up against the Kings and their stacked lineup headed by their twin towers seven-foot Slaughter and athletic forward Japeth Aguilar, who leads the league in block shots.
“This is going to be a challenge for us. Junemar (Fajardo) is a major piece in our line up but we have to find a way. This is the hand that we have right now,” he said.
Sans Fajardo, Petron Blaze still have a dearth of big men and Abanilla expects reigning MVP Arwind Santos, Doug Kramer, Yousef Taha and Jason Deutchman to fill in the void.
The Boosters are also hoping to bounce back from their overtime loss to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters — a setback that Abanilla said almost seemed inevitable after his team had gone 7-0 despite being riddled with injuries to its key players such as Alex Cabagnot and Chris Lutz during the streak.
“I just think sooner or later we’re going to lose and it just so happened that it came against Rain or Shine. We had a couple of close games but this time we took it to overtime. I think despite of all the things that happened to us, despite the injuries early on, we’re happy where we are right now. We never imagined being tied with number one,” Abanilla said.
Petron was able to overcome the absence of a handful of its main players before and the Boosters will be tested anew and this time without their most dominant player in Fajardo and against Ginebra, which is on a roll with a four-game winning run.