JUNE Mar Fajardo’s strong desire to end San Miguel Beer’s three-year title drought has motivated him to cut short his vacation following a two-month stint with Gilas Pilipinas playing in the Fiba World Cup and the Asian Games, respectively.
Looking lighter and quicker in the Beermen’s debut in the PBA Philippine Cup, the 6-foot-10 Fajardo helped San Miguel Beer pull off an 87-79 win over undermanned Rain or Shine in Tuesday’s main at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Cebuano slotman banged in 16 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out three assists in a dominant performance against the shorter Elasto Painters, who lost starting guard Paul Lee to injury (hyperextended knee) early in the game.
Rain or Shine also opened the season without Chris Tiu (hamstring) and Gabe Norwood, who only arrived late Tuesday evening from a two-week leave of absence.
“Every game naman dapat ibigay namin yung makakaya namin eh, kasi nage-aim kami ng championship,” said the reigning league Most Valuable Player.
Fajardo said last season’s Philippine Cup semifinal debacle against the same Rain or Shine side has long been forgotten as the Beermen prefer to keep their eyes focused on this season’s championship mission.
And he likes what he sees under new coach Leo Austria’s system which combines an up-tempo style and post plays for Fajardo.
“Okay naman sistema ni coach, maganda. Medyo naninibago lang din kami kasi yung ibang plays nga, di pa namin ma-run ng maayos, so ako naninibago din. Madami kasing plays eh, so kailangan mong malaman yun,” explained the 24-year-old pride of Pinamungahan, Cebu.
San Miguel’s last championship came in the 2011 Governors Cup when the team was still carrying the banner of Petron under previous coach Renato Agustin.
Since then, the Beermen have failed the past three seasons to corner another title, except to finish runner-up during the 2013 Governors Cup under Gee Abanilla.