JUNE Mar Fajardo and Justin Arana had one common denominator early in their PBA careers.
Both big men were trained by all-time great Danny Ildefonso.
So it was no surprise that the 6-foot-10 Fajardo had one piece of great advice for the Converge rookie shortly after their first match-up in the pro league.
“Sabi niya sa akin makinig ka lang kay coach Danny (I). Gagaling ka diyan,” recalled Arana of his short conversation with Fajardo shortly after San Miguel’s 111-92 drubbing of Converge.
“Maganda daw ang future ko, dapat lang sumunod ako kay coach Danny talaga.”
Fajardo was once trained by Ildefonso, the two-time MVP and one of the PBA’s all-time greats, early in his career with the Beermen.
He has become the most dominating big man in the league today, winning an unprecedented six straight MVP trophies and eight championships in a decade as the face of fabled San Miguel franchise.
The 6-foot-6 Arana, the No. 4 overall pick in the recent draft, is now going through the same process under Ildefonso, who currently serves as Converge deputy to head coach Jeff Cariaso.
Arana saw first-hand how great a player Fajardo has become as the Cebuano big man put together 18 points and 16 rebounds in the blowout win which he capped by hitting his first career three-pointer.
Arana said it was difficult being matched up against Fajardo.
“Sobrang bigat tapos sobrang laki na, may galaw pa,” said the center out of Arellano. “Ang hirap talagang bantayan.”
“Hindi mo siya ma-stop, so kahit papaano, malimitahan mo na lang siya, yun na lang ang magagawa mo. Kasi hindi mo siya maii-stop ng ganun-ganun lang.”
Compounding Arana’s woes was the double sprain he suffered during the game that kept him out for good early in the fourth quarter.
He finished with four points and six rebounds.
Despite the loss and the injury he sustained, Arana said playing against the PBA's most dominant player was a big learning experience.
“At least marami akong natutunan kay kuya June Mar," said Arana. "Sobrang humble din talaga niya, kaya happy din ako naka-bantayan ko rin siya."
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