JUNE Mar Fajardo expressed disappointment for letting San Miguel down in the opener of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, but bowed to bounce back strong as the Beermen look to even the title series on Friday.
Fajardo, the top candidate for the Best Player of the Conference award, registered a tournament best 13th double-double after piling 14 points and 17 rebounds in Wednesday night’s Game One of the best-of-seven showdown.
But his missed free throw in the dying seconds of regulation hurt the Beermen’s chance of winning the game outright, leading to their 88-82 loss in overtime after squandering a huge 22-point lead in the first quarter.
“Nag-mintis eh. Kasalanan ko yun. Bawi na lang,” said Fajardo, who was 6-of-8 from the foul line and 4-of-9 from the field.
“Crucial talaga yung (missed) free throw na yun. Malaking bagay sa huli,” rued the reigning league MVP.
Fajardo’s split from the foul line tied the game at 74-all and sent the game into overtime.
The Beermen started like a house on fire and jumped off to an early 27-5 lead as Fajardo scored eight points in the opening quarter.
But San Miguel and Fajardo eventually cooled down in the face of Alaska’s searing second half fight back after committing an eye-popping 26 turnovers.
Alaska’s frontline of Sonny Thoss, Eric Menk, Vic Manuel, and Calvin Abueva also ganged up on the 6-foot-10 Fajardo, denying him mostly of his comfort zone at the post.
Still, Fajardo remains positive of San Miguel’s shot at ending a three-year title drought, notwithstanding the Game One heartbreaker.
“Mahaba pa ang series, kailangan heads-up lang. May time pa naman kami mag-adjust kasi kung sino naman makapanalo ng apat ang mananalo,” said the big man out of University of Cebu, who took just nine field goal attempts in the game.
“Masakit na matalo, pero ganun talaga ang game. Babawi kami sa next game.”