SAN Mig Coffee gutted out a hard-earned 90-84 win over Petron Sunday night, but don’t say coach Tim Cone didn’t warn the rest of the PBA about the potential of young rookie big man June Mar Fajardo.
The league’s second winningest coach began his post-game interview by showering the towering 6-foot-10 Cebuano with superlatives after Fajardo led a spirited Boosters fight back in the fourth period.
“I think everybody got a glimpse of what June Mar can do these days,” Cone said. “He’s been doing that against Yancy (de Ocampo) who’s 6-10 and Raffy (Reavis) who’s 6-9. He’s been battling our big guys really well.”
Against the Mixers, Fajardo played the best game of his young pro career. The former University of Cebu star center finished with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 from the foul line to go with13 rebounds, three steals, and a block shot.
"Sinabihan lang ako ng mga teammates ko to be aggressive, kaya I took it from there," said Fajardo inside the Petron dugout.
The rookie also delivered the game’s highlight play with a perfect two-handed dunk off de Ocampo and Reavis following a missed shot by Chris Lutz in the midst of Petron's huge rally.
"Basta dumating na lang `yun. Wala naman sa plano ko yun," he added.
Together with Joseph Yeo, Fajardo rallied the Boosters back from the depths of an 18-point second-quarter deficit as they threatened at 87-83 in the final 23 seconds of the thrilling game played before a crowd of 12,002 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Too bad, the Boosters failed to complete the comeback and fell short in the end for a 1-2 record in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
Nonetheless, Cone, whose Mixers share the early lead with defending champion Talk `N Text at 2-0, said Petron will be scary to face in the playoffs, especially with Fajardo blossoming into a legitimate superstar.
“He’s been hitting the boards, doing a lot of stuff out there, and basically his energy really brought them back. He gave them a lot of extra possessions and made some real big key rebounds,” Cone said of the year’s no. 1 overall pick.
“No doubt Petron is gonna get better. I’m on the same bandwagon as (Rain or Shine coach) Yeng Guiao. I’m glad we get rid of them (Boosters) early.”