SAN Miguel coach Leo Austria said June Mar Fajardo’s 40-point game on Sunday can be attributed to the five-time MVP shedding weight due to his stint with Team Pilipinas in the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers.
Austria said Fajardo lost considerable poundage after not being able to eat rice during Team Pilipinas’ campaign in Qatar and Kazakhstan. The weight loss allowed the 6-10 giant to move better on the court, the coach added.
“I think ‘yung Gilas [stint] helped him a lot especially 10 days without rice siya sa Qatar at Kazakhstan. He lost some weight. Nakita mo naman na agile siya,” said Austria.
The improved agility again showed in Sunday’s game in the game against NorthPort where Fajardo dominated the paint and finished with 40 points and 19 rebounds in San Miguel’s 113-107 win at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Austria said he will suggest to Fajardo not to eat rice for him to become in even better shape.
“I think we will advice him not to gain any more weight. Very agile siya. Nakita niyo naman na he has different moves. He could get the rebound kahit iba’t iba (defender) nakakalaro niya. I hope ma-sustain niya ito,” said Austria.
Fajardo admitted he was unable to eat well during Team Pilipinas’ away games against Qatar and Kazakhstan. He, however, believed the rest, more than the less rice intake, was the reason for his superb play of late.
“Nagugutom nga ako doon. Iba kasi ‘yung rice doon eh. Pag-uwi ko rice nga lang kinain ko,” Fajardo said with a smile.
Fajardo added the determination of the team to stay in the hunt for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals was also a big motivation for him.
“Siguro ‘yung pahinga at siyempre must-win kami. Kailangan naming maipanalo ‘yung remaining games namin. Isa sa mga nag-momotivate sa amin ‘yun. Maganda linaro naming lahat. Nag-contribute lahat,” he added.
On Austria’s suggestion for him to eat less rice and go on a diet, Fajardo said he will have to politely decline.
“Dati nga wala akong kinakain tapos ngayon, magbabawas pa ako ng kain. Hindi. Baka bawiin ni God ‘yung blessings, di ba?” Fajardo said with a smile.
“Kung ano puwedeng kainin ko, kakainin ko,” he added.