FOR a team that has as much firepower as San Miguel Beer has, it can afford to give June Mar Fajardo some downtime.
Following a grueling All-Star break, San Miguel decided to give the four-time Most Valuable Player some rest in practice and even during Wednesday’s match against Phoenix in the resumption of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Fajardo did end up with nine points and 13 rebounds in 28 minutes of play, but spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria admitted Fajardo groped for form, perhaps due to the All-Star schedule in which he played in all three legs of the festivities, preventing him from attending practices in preparation for San Miguel’s game against Phoenix.
“It’s unfortunate June Mar, he is not playing the level na he is playing before,” said Austria. “Maybe because of the eight days na he was away with us and not practicing with us.”
But Austria don’t have a problem with Fajardo’s effort. He even excused the San Miguel big man on the eve of the game, allowing Fajardo to rest during practice.
“Yesterday, during practice, he asked me to rest because meron siyang slight fever,” said Austria.
Fajardo admitted fatigue from the All-Star events took its toll on him, but willed himself to attend San Miguel practice despite his condition.
But he didn’t mind.
“Sobrang parang pagod lang kasi sa biyahe pero okay naman. Nag-practice naman ako, ‘yung last part na lang ng practice, nagpahinga ako,” said Fajardo.
“Wala naman ‘yun. Part ng trabaho ‘yun,” he added.
With Fajardo resting, Christian Standhardinger picked up the slack, finishing with 18 points and seven rebounds in the Beermen’s 106-94 win over the Fuel Masters.
“Okay naman. As long as manalo kami, ‘yun naman ‘yung goal namin. Nanalo kami ngayon,” said Fajardo.
Austria is hopeful Fajardo will be able to recover from the whirlwind All-Star schedule as the Beermen now focuses on Barangay Ginebra for their next game on Sunday.
With the Beermen still below the .500 mark, Austria said the match against the Gin Kings is a must win.
“I hope na in the next few days, maka-recover siya kasi we are up against a bigger team. We want to move on. We are in the situation na hindi kami puwede magkamali,” said Austria.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo assured he will be up to the task against Ginebra.
“Kailangan namin magpahinga, focus sa practice, kasi big game sa Sunday. Kailangan namin manalo,” said Fajardo.