LOSING the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Gatorade Best Player of the Conference award wasn’t the motivation behind June Mar Fajardo unleashing the monster in him in Game 4 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals.
It’s just that he knows another loss against TnT Katropa meant a bigger hole to climb for the San Miguel Beermen.
With that in mind, Fajardo flashed the old dominant form than won for him five league MVPs and eight BPC plums to help the Beermen tie the best-of-seven title series at 2-2 with a 106-101 win Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fajardo finished with 22 points and seven rebounds in the all-important victory watched by a crowd of 13,578 – the biggest so far in the mid-season conference and the largest finals attendance without Barangay Ginebra since Game 7 of the 2016 Philippine Cup finals between San Miguel and Alaska.
“Buti ngayon nakuha namin yung panalong ito. Mahirap kasing mabaon sa 1-3, so buti naitabla namin yung series,” said the 6-foot-10 Fajardo, who lost to perennial rival Jayson Castro in the battle for the BPC award.
The San Miguel big man scored 10 points in the third period as he anchored a 12-0 Beermen run in the third quarter that turned a 64-65 deficit to a 76-65 lead.
Fajardo credited his teammates for making things easier for him.
“Hinahanap ako ng mga teammates ko. Kahit nagmimintis ako, pero hinahanap pa rin nila ako. Binibigyan nila ako ng kumpiyansa, kaya kailangan suklian ko yung tiwala nila,” said Fajardo.
Fajardo’s final basket for the night gave the Beerment the breathing room they needed, 100-96, as the Katropa launched a last ditch attempt to turn the game around. Import Chris McCullough dropped the ball to Fajardo down low after TnT counterpart Terrence Jones went over and tried to double him.
“June Mar was able to play comfortably inside. And that’s what we need from him,” said coach Leo Austria of his star player.
Asked about him losing to Castro the Best Player of the Conference honor, Fajardo said that was far from his mind during the game.
Ever humble, Fajardo said Castro was deserving of the award.
“Deserving si Jayson kasi ang ganda ng nilaro niya throughout this conference. So deserve siyang makakuha nun,” he said.
“So congrats kay Jayson tsaka doon sa import, kay Terrence (Jones). Ganun naman talaga.”
Austria then consoled Fajardo by butting in, ‘tsaka marami ka na nun. Kailangan i-share natin.”