IT seems San Miguel Beer remains a potent squad regardless if June Mar Fajardo is on the court or not. Sometimes, the Beermen are even tougher to defend even without the PBA’s most dominant big man.
Barangay Ginebra tries to figure out how to defend powerhouse Beermen better as they seek to regain command of their Governors’ Cup semifinal series on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings lost to the Beermen in Game Two by three points on Wednesday night as they hardly felt the absence of Fajardo when the reigning two-time MVP was forced to sit out to get his cut above his right eye stitched up.
“They got a lot of talent,” Gin Kings coach Tim Cone said. “When June Mar went out, that just broadened their team a little bit. When he's out of the game, instead of having one guy to focus on, all of a sudden you're focused on a whole bunch of guys. Obviously they're going to get June Mar involved.”
“If this was any other team, when June Mar left the floor you'd take a sigh of relief,” he added. “But with this team, because of all the weapons they have, they don't miss a beat, they just keep on going. That's what makes them so tough with or without June Mar.”
Yancy de Ocampo stepped in after Fajardo got hurt, while Alex Cabagnot, Ronald Tubid, Macio Lassiter, Chris Ross, and Arwind Santos shouldered more of the offensive load to support import Elijah Millsap.
But while SMB coach Leo Austria extended his rotation to 10 players after fielding just eight men in the series opener, Ginebra star point guard LA Tenorio believes it’s still the Beermen’s stars, especially Fajardo, who they need to focus on.
“Medyo humugot sila ng konti sa bench nila. Malaking factor rin yung bench, pero yung main guys pa rin nila yung kailangan pagtuunan ng pansin, especially June Mar and their shooters,” Tenorio said.
“June Mar is doing a lot of things, not just scoring. He’s been passing the ball really well and he’s smart,” he added of Fajardo, who still finished with 18 points, 23 boards, two blocks, and one assist in 33 minutes. “Kaya he’s the two-time MVP. We really have to contain him.”