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    Fajardo longs for family after tough SMB run from No. 7 seed to PBA champion

    Aug 17, 2019
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

    IT was definitely one of the hardest paths San Miguel has ever trekked to get to the championship.

    And with the dust settled, there's really one thing June Mar Fajardo would have wanted to celebrate the triumph with -- his family.

    "Gusto ko sana nandito sila, pero wala sila kaya yun lang, nakakalungkot," he said after pouring 19 points and 13 rebounds in the Beermen's 102-90 Game Six clincher on Friday.

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      Fajardo's parents Jun and Marites, as well as his whole clan, are currently in Cebu and failed to make the trip to see their son raise his eighth PBA championship and continue San Miguel's quest for an elusive Grand Slam.

      And that makes the five-time PBA MVP long for his loved ones' warmth.

      "Mas maganda sana kung nandito parents ko, maha-hug ko sila at ma-hug nila ako. Yung mama ko, kapatid ko na si Jay, yung pamangkin kong dalawa, ibang experience sana. Miss ko na sila," he said.

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      Still, it doesn't diminish the hardships the Beermen had to go through just to pull this one off.

      San Miguel stumbled to a 2-5 record and chose to part ways with former Best Import Charles Rhodes, flying in Chris McCullough just to settle for a seventh-place finish in the eliminations.

      There, they had an uphill climb and upset two-seed NorthPort in the quarterfinals, beat Rain or Shine in four games in the semis, and even faced a 2-1 series deficit against the mighty top seed TNT in the championship series.

      "Sobrang hirap talaga, hindi madali. Start pa lang ng conference, struggling kaming buong team. Personally struggling ako pero never nag-give up ang teammates ko at ang coaching staff sa akin. Kahit sobrang pangit ng nilalaro ko, binu-boost nila confidence ko," he said as he picked himself up and even finished bridesmaid in the Best Player of the Conference award race to Jayson Castro.

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      Fajardo, however, banked on that trust as he, together with the rest of the team strung three straight wins to win the title.

      And he has no one else to thank for than coach Leo Austria.

      "Adjustments namin grabe. Buti magaling si Pops," he said before facing Austria. "You did a great job, Pops. Slow clap."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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