TWO of the country’s best players and a few other standouts make their homecoming in Cebu where San Miguel Beer and GlobalPort face off on Saturday in a PBA Philippine Cup road game at the Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City.
June Mar Fajardo, who hails from Pinamungahan, banners an SMB side that’s enjoying the view from the top of the standings against a Batang Pier side that’s lurking behind and spearheaded by Terrence Romeo, who traces his Cebuano roots to the town of Boljoon.
Tipoff of the Petron Saturday Special is at 5 p.m. in a matchup where the Beermen’s Brian Heruala and JR Quiñahan of the Batang Pier are also returning home.
The Batang Pier have won two straight games and have suddenly stood alone in second spot with a 5-3 win-loss record after recent losses to Rain or Shine and TNT Katropa.
Now, they try to book the second quarterfinal ticket, but are facing the a daunting task in the Beermen, the tournament’s hottest team with seven straight wins and eight overall in nine games, a record enough to clinch a twice-to-beat edge in the first round of the playoffs.
“I think we have to play much better and smarter against San Miguel,” GlobalPort coach Franz Pumaren said after their 110-96 win over NLEX last week. “San Miguel is a different team with June Mar around. We should design something to at least limit his point production.”
Fajardo is averaging 20 points on 64.9-percent shooting, 15.4 boards, 1.7 assists, and 1.7 blocks in 34.4 minutes, making him again the Best Player of the Conference race frontrunner.
“Jun Mar will get his numbers. He’s an import playing in the all Filipino,” Pumaren said of the University of Cebu product. “His numbers even during the import-laden conferences are still import-like numbers.”
“We have to limit June Mar and probably the other players,” he added as the Beermen boast a powerhouse crew that also has Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos, among others, matching up against the Batan Pier’s backcourt tandem of Romeo and Stan Pringle.
“It’s going to be hard on our part, but we’ll just upset it with speed,” Pumaren concluded.