BLACKWATER rookie Brian Heruela had mixed feelings on Wednesday when the expansion franchise finally nailed a first-ever victory in the PBA, at the expense of college teammate June Mar Fajardo and San Miguel Beer.
The burly playmaker submitted 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, nine rebounds, five assists, and a steal in 36 minutes of play as the Elite frustrated the Beermen, 80-77, in their Commissioner’s Cup matchup.
Although thrilled of the historic win and satisfied with his all-around performance, Heruela felt bad for Fajardo, his longtime University of Cebu teammate, whose team lost for the third straight game just three weeks after the Beermen’s Philippine Cup conquest.
“Before the start of the game, I told him we badly needed to win already and he told me the same,” Heruela recalled. “And it was amazing that we finally did it.”
Worse, Fajardo sat on the bench the entire fourth quarter after a sluggish showing in the first three periods on the way to tallying just five points on 2-of-9 shooting, although he did have nine boards in 18 minutes.
“I was thinking, 'What’s wrong,?” Heruela said. “I know he’s all banged up from last conference, maybe he’s tired or still recovering.”
Still, the Elite’s starting point guard admitted the absence of the reigning league MVP in the crucial juncture of the game was a good break for the Elite.
“Good thing for us he didn’t play, because if he did, he’s a lot of problem for us,” Heruela said. “I’m thankful he didn’t play and wasn’t making his normal shots.”