JIREH Ibañes insisted it was not his intention to hurt June Mar Fajardo in Game Six of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series between San Miguel and Rain or Shine on Friday night.
The Elasto Painters wingman apologized for leaving the SMB superstar down on the floor after injuring his left knee in their collision, but stressed there was nothing dirty about what he described as an ordinary battle for the rebound with five minutes gone by in the third quarter.
“I saw my teammate take a shot so I tried to put myself in the best position to get the rebound and that's it, it happened,” the Rain or Shine defensive lynchpin said.
“I just tried to box him out and I didn't expect that's going to happen,” Ibañes added. “I hope he recovers fast for the finals and I hope he does well.”
The incident left Ibañes as the subject of scorn by SMB fans, but the gutsy guard insisted he did nothing wrong.
“I can't control what they think but I'm just trying to box him out,” the 33-year-old cager said. “I'm just so sorry that it happened. And again, hopefully, it won't be that serious, hopefully he can play in the finals. I wish them well, and I pray for a quick recovery.”
“Nangyayari yun eh. It's basketball, sometimes pag box out natin,” the 10-year veteran said. “That's it. Sana talaga okay siya.”
Painters coach Yeng Guiao stood by his ward.
“He just tried to box somebody out,” the veteran mentor said. “Those things happen.”