PETRON Blaze has finally won a game against a PBA team in the preseason -- and top rookie pick June Mar Fajardo has started to throw his weight around.
The Boosters beat a fighting Barako Bull, 95-88, on Friday at the Acropolis gym in Quezon City with the 6-9 Fajardo collecting 19 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and throwing down the vicious dunk in the final stretch that sealed the team's first win in three preseason games against PBA opposition.
The win was a boost in confidence for the Boosters, the consensus pre-tournament favorite who started the preseason games with back-to-back losses to Rain or Shine (83-98) and Alaska (84-90).
Their lone win came against a selection of Cebu collegiate players over the weekend.
"Coach Olsen [Racela] has encouraged us to keep improving and work on our system," Fil-American rookie Alex Mallari told Spin.ph. "Barako Bull got back in the final period, but right now, we need to work together.
"Hopefully, we could we have everyone back because some of my teammates still have health issues.”
Sophomore Fil-Am shooter Chris Lutz played his first preseason game for the Boosters, but was clearly still feeling his way back into the game. Dorian Pena, Alex Cabagnot and another Fil-Am Marcio Lassiter sat out the game due to various injuries.
Fajardo, the 24-year-old slotman who played for University of Cebu in college and the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League, got his way in the paint with Barako Bull missing Enrico Villanueva who was with Smart Gilas 2.0 in the 2012 Fiba Asia Cup in Tokyo, Japan.
Without Villanueva, Doug Kramer held the fort for the Energy in the paint, scoring 20 points.
Petron will next face Meralco on Monday (Sept. 17) followed by sister team Barangay Ginebra on Saturday (Sept. 22).