PBA: June Mar Fajardo too much for Rain or Shine in Game 2

June Mar Fajardo San Miguel Beermen beat Rain or Shine Elasto Painters PBA semis

San Miguel Beermen center June Mar Fajardo.–PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines—It was another day at the office for June Mar Fajardo on Sunday in Game 2 of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.

Like clockwork, Fajardo had a field day in the third quarter where he made his first five attempts in the period and scored 18 of his game-high 22 points to propel San Miguel Beer past Rain or Shine for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.

Fajardo, who went 9-of-13 from the field and also had 10 rebounds and four assists, made it look easy and showed why he’s the PBA’s only seven-time MVP against a rugged Elasto Painters side.

“‘Di ko napansin nakangiti pala ‘ko,” said Fajardo jokingly in Filipino on Sunday. (I didn’t even realize I was smiling.)

“I just want to enjoy the game because, of course, we’re in the semis now. Sometimes when you’re too serious, you get too competitive. I just try my best to enjoy the game but at the same time of course, be serious.”

READ: PBA: June Mar Fajardo powers San Miguel to 2-0 lead vs Rain or Shine

Fajardo’s presence in the paint also startled the Elasto Painters as they tallied just 32 inside points. The Beermen on the other hand, bannered by their very own MVP, had 46.

However, the stat sheet doesn’t tell the whole story. Fajardo did struggle in the first half, only scoring just four points.

That, of course, changed in the third quarter where he scored much of his points.

“I needed to pass first and get my teammates going because in the first half, the defense against me was so tight. I needed to find my open teammates, especially Marcio (Lassiter) and Chris (Ross). When they make shots, the defense loosens up.”

And with the Beermen’s other weapons like CJ Perez, Terrence Romeo and Marcio Lassiter finding the target, it makes it easier for Fajardo to operate in the shaded area where he simply couldn’t be stopped, as per his coach Jorge Gallent.

“We were looking to see where the double team was coming from so I told June Mar, if the double team comes early then he should pass. If it doesn’t, then he should grind himself inside,” said Gallent.

“I feel like no one can stop him when he’s inside the paint. That’s what he did in the third quarter,” he added.