PBA: San Miguel finally makes Philippine Cup debut
PBA

PBA: San Miguel makes Philippine Cup debut with June Mar in question

/ 05:15 AM March 15, 2024

CJ Perez (right) will be asked to leadthe Beermen with June Mar Fajardo likely sitting it out.

CJ Perez (right) will be asked to lead San Miguel with June Mar Fajardo likely sitting it out. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

San Miguel Beer finally makes its first appearance on Friday with the goal of shaking off what it left of its championship hangover as the Beermen begin the mission of trying to replicate what transpired a month earlier.

“It would be a dream to go back to the Finals,” coach Jorge Gallent said. “It’s easy to say, but it’s hard work.”

That tone obviously sums up what the Beermen will deal with in their opening assignment in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at Smart Araneta Coliseum, with seven-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) June Mar Fajardo a question mark to play.

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READ: Latest PBA title sets San Miguel up for 30th crown

Team manager Gee Abanilla said the frontrunner for this season’s MVP award’s availability will be known literally before their 4:30 p.m. match with the Painters. The 6-foot-10 gentle giant had played through a calf injury during San Miguel Beer’s eventual triumph over Magnolia in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals.

And it is that same injury that forced Fajardo to be a spectator a few weeks ago when Gilas Pilipinas won its two games in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup Qualifiers, against Hong Kong and later on Chinese Taipei.

READ: PBA Legend says San Miguel star June Mar Fajardo isn’t done yet

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“He is looking good, but he’s still a game-time decision by the coaches,” Abanilla said.

It’s the latest injury bug to hit Fajardo, who last conference sat out six games due to a broken hand.

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His potential absence, however, may not be a major concern for the Beermen as far as warm, reliable bodies are concerned.

Gallent could give priority to players like Rodney Brondial or Mo Tautuaa to provide cover in the middle and have Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP CJ Perez lead things up for the star-studded squad.

San Miguel last played on Valentine’s Day when it came back in the final minutes to beat Magnolia and claim the first offering of the two-conference season.

No team has ever completed a pseudo-Grand Slam in seasons when the PBA reduced its format to two conferences.

The PBA had two conferences in 1981, then from 2005 to 2010 before implementing the same calendar during the 2021-22 season.

Friday’s other game pits Barangay Ginebra going for a 3-0 record and a firm hold on top spot against Meralco at 7:30 p.m.

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Arguably the biggest obstacle in the Beermen’s bid for twin titles, the Gin Kings begin the All-Filipino with victories anchored by Jamie Malonzo.

TAGS: June Mar Fajardo, PBA Philippine Cup, San Miguel Beer

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