TNT coach Chot Reyes said filling the shoes of Kelly Williams must be by committee, and so far, they are heeding the call.
TNT bigs vs Fajardo
Rosario, Erram, and Marcelo have also been working doubly hard in defending San Miguel’s top big man and six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, who still came away with 13 points and 11 rebounds in TNT's 89-88 victory.
“The first thing we said is there’s no one person who can fill the shoes of Kelly Williams,” said Reyes. “That’s such big shots. But every guy does a little bit extra. Like Roger (Pogoy) did a little bit extra in rebounding and defensive side, and the bulk falls on Poy Erram, Dave Marcelo, and Troy.”
“It was a hell of an effort, superhuman effort by our bigs without our starting big man to just stay with June Mar. No one can stop June Mar. Our best is to just stay, to contain, and do our best, and then we will see what happens,” said Reyes.
Erram finished with 15 points and five rebounds in Game 1, as Rosario added 14 points. Marcelo fouled out in the game, but provided a spark on defense with three blocks while also being an extra body to Fajardo.
Still, Reyes said defending Fajardo will always be a difficult challenge the rest of the series, regardless of whether Williams is out or not. For one, Fajardo is surrounded with great talent who could score at any time.
Reyes said the best thing to do is to stay in front of Fajardo and hope that the defense can hold up against the San Miguel big man as well as the other players of the Beermen.
“You can never solve a problem like June Mar,” Reyes said. “The best thing we can do is to limit but he may have only 13 points but others picked it up naman. I think San Miguel is constructed in such a way that they are so deep that they don’t really need June Mar to score 20 or 30 points.”
“They need June Mar to be their inside presence and everyone else scores off him. Ganun kalakas ang team na ‘to. I don’t think by any stretch that we have solved the problem, the June Mar Fajardo problem. All we’ve done is give ourselves a 1-0 lead. The last time I checked, we still need three more wins that we have to get,” said Reyes.
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