PBA: Tough schedule awaits San Miguel without June Mar Fajardo
MANILA, Philippines—Coach Leo Austria admitted that San Miguel’s confidence took a hit when it lost June Mar Fajardo to a throat problem.
Understandable. The Beermen, after all, were a mess and looked every bit disjointed without their six-time Most Valuable Player during their title defense in the 2020 Philippine Cup.
“The morale is a bit low because of June Mar’s (absence),” Austria told reporters in Filipino shortly after a 113-87 thrashing at the hands of the visiting Bay Area Dragons at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“But I keep on telling them that we have to fight back and we have to be positive because we have nothing [that we can do about it] except to try and to win,” he went on.
Luckily for Austria and the Beermen, Fajardo is projected to return just in time before the playoffs.
Fajardo, who broke his shinbone during the bubble conference in Clark, is now just recuperating from a throat procedure to address a laryngeal fracture he sustained during a clash against Rain or Shine last Thursday.
The gentle giant’s recovery is expected to take about four weeks, which should be around the second week of November. By then San Miguel will still have four games left in its elimination round schedule.
Fajardo has been discharged, and is back to “playing,” according to Austria.
“He’s doing video games,” the animated mentor said with a chuckle.
Turning serious once again, Austria said that the club missed Fajardo’s ferocious tandem with import Diamond Stone.
“We’re really not used to playing without June Mar,” he said. “The players are all feeling his absence. Our plays always involve June Mar.”
The challenge now, according to Austria, is to hold the fort until then. But that task is set to become even more daunting as 1-1 San Miguel plays four teams in a tightly packed schedule.
“It is a tough assignment for us because starting next week, we have four games in eight days,” he said of the stretch that will pit the club against Converge, NLEX, NorthPort, and then Meralco.