JUNE Mar Fajardo has turned a lot of heads for his vastly improved performances both for Petron and Gilas Pilipinas, but he's not letting the plaudits get to his head.
“Marami pa akong kakaining puso (hanging rice, a local rice delicacy in Cebu),” said the rookie sensation, a day after helping Gilas pull off an 80-72 win over the visiting Shanghai Sharks. “Sa totoo lang, tingin ko nasa 60 percent pa lang ako ng gusto kong maging bilang isang player."
The 6-10 Petron rookie from Pinamungajan, Cebu has improved by leaps and bounds since his days with the University of Cebu in the Cesafi, with coaches raving over the 23-year-old's unique combination of good footwork, soft hands, and powerful body.
Yet the top pick overall in this year's PBA draft insists he has barely scratched the surface as he continues his basketball education that started under legendary PBA star Ramon Fernandez in Cebu and now under two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso at Petron.
“Hindi pa ako kuntento kung ano man yung nailalabas ko, alam ko may ipapakita pa ako,” added Fajardo in his baritone voice. “Madami pa akong kailangang malaman sa laro.”
If there is one thing he learned in his head-to-head showdown with Shanghai's 7-foot-3 center Zhang Zhaoxu on Monday night, it is that basketball is not entirely about power.
“Kulang pa ako sa gulang, pero matutunan ko rin yun,” he said. “Kaya ngayon dinadaan ko sa diskarte."
Fajardo said he doesn't even envision himself making it to the NBA.
“NBA? PBA nga hindi ko talaga napangarap … NBA pa. Hindi ko talaga naisip na makakalaro ako dito sa PBA. Nilagay lang ako ni Lord dito,” said the gentle giant.
“Pero kung may opportunity siyempre i-ga-grab ko yun."