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    San Miguel 'looks quicker, better' without Fajardo, says Guiao

    Mar 22, 2020
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    LIKE most everyone else, Yeng Guiao has a lot of time in his hands in the midst of the enhanced community quarantine imposed in Metro Manila and the entire Luzon island, part of which he uses to watch videos of old games.

    One thing struck him after watching the only PBA game played this season.

    "San Miguel looked good," Guiao after viewing a rerun of SMB's season-opening game against Magnolia in the PBA Philippine Cup - the Beermen's first since star center June Mar Fajardo to a broken right tibia.

    "San Miguel looks better now," he added, "faster and better."

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    That last line may be hard to believe, considering the Beermen have won more than half (eight to be exact) of the league's last 15 championships with the 6-foot-10 Fajardo winning MVP in each of the last six seasons.

    Guiao said nobody can argue with San Miguel's success with Fajardo in the middle. But what he didn't expect was that the Beermen didn't look half bad in its first game since losing the Cebuano giant.

    "Before, the ball always had to go to June Mar. Everything San Miguel did had to go through him," said the NLEX coach. "Without him, his teammates are getting more touches and they are showing what they can do."

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    He rattled off the names of Terrence Romeo (19 points, seven assists), Chris Ross (four points, five rebounds, seven assists), and big man Mo Tautuaa, who, starting in place of Fajardo, produced a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds to go with two blocks in the 94-78 win over Magnolia last March 8.

    But he reserved his biggest praise for Arwind Santos, who had 18 points, 15 rebounds and five steals for the Beermen.

    "Arwind is the type of player who plays well when placed in a situation where he is important," said Guiao. "Well, he's important for San Miguel right now."

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      Guiao agreed that this season, when it resumes, will serve as the biggest test of Leo Austria's coaching career. But he also sees little reason to expect a decline in the Beermen now that Fajardo is out.

      That should be bad news for the rest of the league, Guiao's NLEX's side included.

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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