No bubble-popping Kraken for Beermen in PBA restart
June Mar Fajardo was supposed to miss the PBA’s Philippine Cup due to a broken leg. But a pandemic that shut down the league provided hope for fans that the long break could bring the reigning six-time MVP back in action and help the San Miguel Beermen defend the crown they have held for five straight seasons.
San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria, however, canned those hopes.
Austria said that should the PBA resume its suspended 45th season, Fajardo will still be working to strengthen his fractured shin.
“He won’t be joining us in the bubble because we don’t want to disrupt his rehab process, especially since he’s doing well on his own and is in high spirits right now,” Austria told the Inquirer in Filipino on Saturday.
“He’s not in the lineup and he understands the situation.”
San Miguel Beer played the lone game in the Philippine Cup before the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic froze sporting leagues all over the world, hammering a convincing 94-78 victory over Magnolia to underscore its title defense preparedness minus its key star. But fans were still hoping that the long break would give Fajardo enough time to further bolster the Beermen’s bid.
With his absence in the restart confirmed, teams will now be circling around the Beermen like sharks, hoping to loosen the most dominant stranglehold on the league’s most prestigious trophy.
“We don’t have June Mar and every team is excited because they know how open this race is,” said Austria who led the Beermen to eight titles from 2015 to 2019. “Without June Mar their chances all got better.”
But Austria said the team is ready for the challenges,
“We’re still really capable of winning a championship. The players are confident and they agree that the chance is always there,” Austria said. “We’re capable and one of our advantages is the experience of the players.”
San Miguel will still bring a stacked team to the bubble in Pampanga, that Austria could even offer a humorous take on Fajardo’s absence
“He’s too big the bubble might pop,” said Austria, laughing.
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