LEO Austria admitted the sudden loss of top gun June Mar Fajardo threw San Miguel in disarray, resulting in a 108-105 loss to Rain or Shine that brought to an end the team’s winning streak in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Beermen led by as many as 35-16 early in the second quarter until Fajardo went down with a right knee injury middle of the period when he stepped on the toe of San Miguel’s import Tyler Wilkinson.
In the words of Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao, ”June Mar getting injured himself was the biggest break we got in this game.”
Austria certainly agreed.
“Without June Mar, medyo tough para sa amin dahil nabago ang set-up because we have no big man to go to in the post,” said Austria, whose Beermen lost for the first time in four outings to fall at 3-2.
“Ever since naman siya yung haligi naming.”
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo never returned to the game and was already dressed up when the second half began.
By that time, the Elasto Painters had managed to crawl their way back into the game, 46-44.
But Austria is not making Fajardo’s absence an excuse, saying even without the Beermen’s bread-and-butter, ‘we can still win.’
The Beermen however, obviously lost its discipline without ‘The Kraken’ around.
“Na-bothered yung mga players. Na out of focus, nagkanya-kanya ng konti,” he said. “We’re able to regroup when we realized that there’s no more June Mar, but we fell short.”
Austria could only crossed his fingers that Fajardo’s knee injury is not as serious as the one he suffered during the Philippine Cup semifinals against Rain or Shine, which kept him out early in the best-of-seven finals against Alaska.
Incidentally, the Aces are up next against the Beermen on Wednesday.
“I hope yung nangyari kay June Mar is just a minor (one). I hope,” said the soft-spoken mentor.