PETRON Blaze Boosters newcomer Junemar Fajardo admits Alaska's Calvin Abueva has gained the headstart in the race for the Rookie of the Year award.
But that doesn't mean he is giving up.
After a hard-luck campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup marred by an injury-enforced layoff and an early exit for Petron in the title race, the season's top rookie pick overall hopes to make up ground in the season's next two conferences.
“Counted pa naman yung second and third conference, di ba?” the 6-10 slotman out of the University of Cebu told Spin.ph. “So pwede pa akong humabol.”
The Petron rookie, though, will need to make up a lot of ground after a damned start to his pro career that saw him sidelined for over a month due to a groin injury and then hospitalized over the holidays in Cebu after a bout with typhoid fever.
The 23-year-old big man has also fallen well behind the sensational Abueva in the statistical points race. As of December 16, the Alaska freshman is running second to Petron's Arwind Santos while Fajardo is nowhere near the Top 25.
Fajardo, though, hopes to fare better in the next two import-laced conferences, where his year-long stint in the Asean Basketball League last year battling imports bigger and stronger than him should work to his advantage.
“Kakayanin natin magparamdam next conference,” said the soft-spoken giant.
Though he was discharged from a Cebu hospital only last December 30, Fajardo already joined Petron at the start of its training at the Galleria, where the team lifted weights as part of its conditioning program.