BRIAN Heruela hopes to translate his successful partnership with June Mar Fajardo in college to the professional level as the bosom buddies are reunited at San Miguel Beer.
The sophomore Filipino-American playmaker teamed up with the reigning back-to-back PBA MVP at University of Cebu, which they steered to back-to-back CESAFI championships that put an end to the dominant nine-year reign of University of Visayas.
Now, the college buddies are back together after Heruela was acquired by the Beermen from Barako Bull for fellow guard Jeric Fortuna.
“It’s a dream come true for me to play with him in a high level,” Heruela said after SMB’s practice on Friday. “I’m excited to win a championship together in this level this time.”
Fajardo echoed his long-time teammate’s sentiment.
“Syempre natutuwa ako na magkasama na ulit kami,” the SMB superstar said.
“Malaking (tulong siya) kasi malakas yung katawan tapos mabilis,” he added. “Sana maka-adapt agad siya sa system ni coach Leo (Austria).”
Heruela, however, comes into an SMB side with a loaded backcourt rotation led by Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross after leading expansion franchise Blackwater in scoring (10.6), assists (a league-leading 5.2), steals (1.5), and minutes (33) right in his rookie season.
But the 26-year-old cager is taking the move in stride.
“I always look at opportunity as a positive thing,” said Heruela, who completed his all-around numbers with 4.9 rebounds per game. “I just look forward to this new journey and hopefully I can fit well, just be happy here, and keep winning.”
“My mindset is how I can help the team,” he added. “I’m just going to do whatever they ask me to do and whatever way I can help out.”
While admitting Heruela’s diminished role at San Miguel, Austria still expects the burly Cebuano guard to provide significant contribution.
“He will be having a different role unlike sa Blackwater,” Austria said. “Dito, expect for June Mar and Arwind (Santos), the rest nahahati na ‘yun (playing time).”
“The good thing is hindi ako kakabahan na ma-foul trouble or magkasakit ang ibang (playmakers),” he was quick to add. “At pinagsasabay ko sila minsan, si Chris Ross at Alex. What more kung meron kang Heruela?”