CONFLICTING signals on the status of San Miguel star center June Mar Fajardo aren't rattling Alaska's coaching staff in its preparations against the Beermen in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas told Spin.ph they are aware of the mixed signals on Fajardo’s projected return in the ongoing best-of-seven title series, but are making sure they won't be caught off guard whatever happens.
“Nakakalito talaga yung mga reports, pero kami hindi namin kinakagat kung ano 'yung mga reports at statement nila. Basta kami maghahanda,” said Alas, referring to statements released by San Miguel officials on the knee injury of the two-time MVP.
“May report na okay na raw at maglalaro sa Game 2, may report na pwedeng at the tailend of the series, may report na hindi na makakabalik. Wala sa amin 'yun, basta kami, kasama siya sa preparasyon namin,” he added.
Spin.ph was the first to report about the doctors' fears of a partial tear on Fajardo’s left ACL.
San Miguel physician Dr. Chito Ibanez later told Sports5 courtside report Mara Aquino ahead of Game 1 of the finals, which the Aces won, 100-91, that Fajardo will need two to four weeks of complete rest before entertaining thoughts of a return.
However, both San Miguel coach Leo Austria and team manager Gee Abanilla say otherwise, stressing that ligaments in Fajardo's left knee are intact and that there is a chance the 6-10 giant can still play in the series.
Alas revealed that the Aces also sought expert advice from their team physician Dr. Facundo Sun, who assessed the gravity of Fajardo’s injury based on videos from Game 6 of San Miguel’s semis match versus the Rain or Shine that happened last Friday.
“Ni-review rin nung team doctor namin yung tapes at nakita niya na hindi biro yung pagkakapilipit ng tuhod ni June Mar. Conservative assessment nga niya (Dr. Sun), at least two weeks. By that time, tapos na ang finals,” he said.
“Pero sabi ko nga, hindi kami magiging complacent, we will prepare every game thinking that June Mar will play,” explained Alas.
The former NCAA three-time champion coach also bared how chief mentor Alex Compton gave each of his players a tap on the back during their practice on Monday afternoon at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong for their resilient Game 1 performance.
“Coach Alex was so happy with how the players responded. It was a tough win for us. He told them not to be complacent, kasi malalim ang bench ng San Miguel, they can come back stronger,” he said.