PBA Finals: BPC frontrunner June Mar Fajardo keeps focus on Game 4
MANILA, Philippines—The likelihood of another individual award to be added to his trophy room is the least of June Mar Fajardo’s focus at this point.
With scars to prove, Fajardo knows he will have to keep finding ways against TNT’s hellacious defense and give San Miguel Beer a commanding 3-1 lead in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday.
“Wala namang namamatay sa kalmot (Nobody dies from getting scratched),” Fajardo said after posting 27 points and 27 rebounds on Friday night in a 108-100 win that put the Beermen up for the first time in the best-of-seven affair.
But before things get underway at 6:05 p.m. inside Smart Araneta Coliseum, Fajardo may get his name called as the league announces the winner of the Best Player of the Conference, an honor the Cebuano gentle giant has won a record eight times.
He and teammate CJ Perez have the closest chance at getting the award which usually serves as the first step for any player to be put in consideration for the Most Valuable Player at season’s end.
Either player, however, is eager to put San Miguel on the doorstep of a return to its place as rulers of the All-Filipino tournament.
Friday’s win fashioned out at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City saw Fajardo registering his 20th career game of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds, even against a Tropang Giga resolve that made things hard for him.
In fact, a large scratch on his right shoulder was proof of what Fajardo has been enduring since the series started exactly a week ago.
“It’s a physical game out there and I have to stay composed,” the six-time Most Valuable Player said in Filipino.
The Tropang Giga would like to make it harder for Fajardo, and so are the Beermen’s other key pieces as they try to level the series with coach Chot Reyes back on the sidelines.
Reyes missed the last two games—both TNT losses—after focusing on his other role calling the shots for Gilas Pilipinas in its Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers away match against Lebanon.
Assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga, who took charge of the squad, said Reyes’ return could help the Tropang Giga bounce back and reduce the series between the flagship teams of rival corporations into a best-of-three.
Reyes arrived Saturday from Beirut and quickly met with his coaching staff to map out plans for the crucial match.
“We’re down 1-2 and we got coach Chot back and that’s a very big boost for us,” he said.
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