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June Mar scores a full point

/ 12:32 AM July 21, 2015

CEBU CITY—At the Larsian barbecue stalls in Osmeña Fuente, I was reminded of how passionate Cebuanos are about basketball and how they talk about the game in their own inimitable way.

Together with my eldest son Martin, we caught the second half of Game 4 of the Governors’ Cup finale between San Miguel and Alaska at the popular barbecue spot.  As always the place was filled with hungry and thirsty patrons, with more than 30 barbecue and drinks stalls eager to meet their needs.

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But fans on tables and barbecue cooks were also ready for the game where San Miguel had a commanding 3-0 series lead.

I asked one male stall worker taking a break from fanning fiery coals to grill the orders.  “Sino lamang bai (Who’s leading friend)?” I asked as I tried to sneak in for a good view of the TV set behind tables of customers eating while following the game.

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“San Miguel,” the cook replied, “Half-shot lang (Just by a half-shot).”

Now before you scratch your head wondering what the young flame-fanner actually meant, he merely said that San Miguel had a one-point lead in the third quarter I began to watch with others.  I picked this up years ago in the defunct MBA when the Cebu Gems would battle all comers and the hometown Cebuanos would back their team to the hilt.

As I recall, the fans would also sometimes say “half-point” to mean that a player made only one free throw out of two.  It all stems from a regular basket being two points.  A three is a three and the rest of the game is known by heart by the passionate Cebuanos.

In Larsian, there was palpable fondness for June Mar Fajardo, the seemingly gentle 6-foot-10 giant who first made a name for himself in these parts for the University of Cebu.  There was nothing gentle in the way he dominated the series and the year.  He picked up his second PBA Most Valuable Player award just before the game and went on to help complete the sweep of the Aces.

Fajardo is not your usual slow, lumbering big man.  Over the years and with some fine coaching, he has developed skills and a court sense that aspiring big men should learn from.  Fajardo can pass the ball to the open deadly San Miguel shooters like Marcio Lassiter or simply use more than ample footwork to create gaps in the defense for his own forays.

Fajardo is also engaging to watch when he doesn’t have the ball as he moves to open spots or screens on the baseline.  He will always be a threat and it will take more than just a double team to stop him defensively.  Maybe a clone or someone just as big and able will have to come along to contain him from piling up MVP numbers every year.

Cebu went back to its barbecue business and other concerns after the San Miguel balloons fell to the Smart Araneta floor.  They could smile, however, for as long as they wanted because one of their very own scored more than just the usual “half-point.”

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TAGS: Basketball, Cebu, June Mar Fajardo, San Miguel Beermen, Sports
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