Black admits Bolts might end up getting whistled a lot in attempt to limit June Mar Fajardo
San Miguel Beer star center June Mar Fajardo is not letting Meralco’s physicality get under his skin as he expects to endure the same for the duration of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
Fajardo has been one of the main reasons why the Beermen are up, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series. But the six-time Most Valuable Player has bore the brunt of the Bolts’ defense in the first three games.
“I’ve been preparing my body for the physicality,” Fajardo said in Filipino after most of his 21 points came from 16 attempts from the foul line last Sunday when San Miguel beat Meralco, 96-91, at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“[Meralco’s physicality is] expected and I have to keep my focus on the game and avoid complaining to the referees because it’s not my job to make the calls,” he added.
Fajardo made 11 and missed five from the 15-foot line in Game 3, mostly from fouls committed by Meralco which saw its defense even putting more than two men on the Beermen star in an attempt to contain him.
Fajardo gave Meralco coach Norman Black and his staff a lot to worry about the San Miguel front line that also has Vic Manuel and Mo Tautuaa as other options.
Game 4 is set on Wednesday at the Big Dome, and Meralco insisted that it will try to make life miserable for Fajardo anew, even if it means getting to hear more whistles that favor San Miguel.
“We’ll probably going to end up committing more fouls as this series goes on,” Black said after the Bolts were called for 29 fouls against 22 for the Beermen. “But at the same time, that’s the only way we’re going to beat them.
“We have to play physical, play scrappy and try to control the boards, and try to control June Mar because he’s really the axis that this San Miguel team rotates around.”
Fajardo may again heed coach Leo Austria’s plan to make plays by creating more chances for everyone else.
“‘Paps’ told me that I would be more of a decoy first,” Fajardo said, referring to Austria. “I would be more of a passer and when the defense opens up, my teammates would give me the ball.”
Fajardo was not the only reason why San Miguel was on the winning end. CJ Perez scored 13 of his 26 points in the first quarter, something that Black said “they can’t let [him] get away [with]” while Manuel and Tautuaa made it doubly difficult for Meralco to defend down low.
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