SAN Miguel Beer center June Mar Fajardo piqued the curiosity of mediamen and fans when he showed up for the second half of Game Five with a different undershirt.
The 6-10 slotman inially wore a blue shirt under San Miguel jersey in the first half of Friday night but showed up after the intermission wearing a yellow undershirt that looked an odd match to his red No. 15 jersey.
So what's the reason behind it?
Well, the yellow shirt turned out to be from his alma mater University of Cebu, which he led to two championships in the Cesafi (Cebu Schools Athletic Federation, Inc.) during his varsity days.
More than showing his pride for his school, the soft-spoken 6-foot-10 star from Cebu said wearing the shirt during the game brought back a lot of fond memories and served to inspire him.
“Parang swerte lang (ang shirt). Hindi naman (masasabing) anting-anting, pero mas inspired ako lumaro pag-suot ko ito,” said Fajardo after the Beermen's 93-88 win over Alaska at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Proud ako na UC-nian ako, so pride ko yung UC. Sinuot ko 'yung shirt,” added the reigning PBA MVP and Best Player of the Conference. “Sana nung nakita nila na suot ko sana maging proud rin sila sa akin.”
Fajardo bared that after a struggling start by the Beermen in the first half, he made the decision to wear the 'lucky' shirt given to him by Alaska veteran and fellow UC alumnus Dondon Hontiveros.
“Wala lang, gusto ko lang isuot. Pero ganun nga, parang pakiramdam ko magiging inspired ako na maglaro pag sinuot ko yung shirt ng school ko,” he said.
Even Fajardo’s former teammate at UC, Blackwater Elite rising guard Brian Heruela, said wearing the shirt is something special to Fajardo.
“I noticed that (he changed his shirt midway through the game), I was surprised he wore it in the second half kanina. Pero he always does that and he’s proud to do that,” said Heruela.
“I tell you, June Mar gives it his all every game, but I feel he’s a little more special wearing it (the UC shirt),” added the cat-quick guard.
Heruela even bared that during their time at UC, he and Fajardo had to carry much of the load against tough rivals, particularly their arch-nemesis the University of the Visayas Green Lancers, led then by Greg Slaughter.
“Back in Cebu, he (Fajardo) was a do-it-all guy. We basically play almost forty minutes every game. Kasi wala kaming mga back-up na role players,” said Heruela.
“June Mar rebounds, he defends, he scores, mostly he does everything minsan nga siya na rin nagbaba ng bola pag may mga pesky defender ako,” he added. “Notice how good June Mar is in handing off the ball.”
“Bugbog talaga sa game si June Mar during our time, pero he never complains. All he cares about is win the game, that’s all that matters to him,” said the hard-banging guard.
But more than anything, Fajardo said he wants to repay his former school for the trust and patience given to him by the coaching staff.
“(Dun kasi talaga ako nagsimula) Tinuruan nila ko dun, dati di ako marunong mag-basketball, nag-improve lang ako (dahil sa kanila),” he said.
And with the 2015 Philippine Cup title within his reach, Fajardo hopes that the series will end on Sunday so he can already go back to his hometown.
“Sana matapos na ito, para makauwi na rin ako sa Cebu,” he said. “(Hindi lang naman ako lahat), maganda ang teamwork namin kaya nanalo kami. Yun ang main reason kaya nanalo kami.”
“Kailangan ko talaga mag-step up, tiyaga-tiyaga lang."