June Mar Fajardo genuinely happy to see rookie Van Opstal finally break out of shell
June Mar Fajardo hugs it out with rookie SMB teammate Arnold Van Opstal. Jaime Campos

JUNE Mar Fajardo welcomed the reduced playing time he had in San Miguel Beer’s 118-93 victory over Blackwater in their PBA Philippine Cup matchup on Friday night.

Coming in averaging 35.8 minutes in his first six games, the reigning league MVP saw just 28 minutes of action against the Elite as SMB coach Leo Austria had the luxury of playing his relievers with the Beermen sitting on a sizeable cushion.

“Okay lang,” Fajarda said when asked if he’d like to keep seeing reduced minutes. “Mas hindi masyadong bugbog.”

Despite his relatively limited time, Fajardo inflicted his usual damage, tallying 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and 7-of-9 from the foul line, on top of eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and one steal as he and the rest of the starters took care of business early.

“They (starters) want to have a lead as (many) as possible because we have players in the second or third group who want to play, because they’re the ones playing hard in practice,” SMB coach Leo Austria said .

“If they (starters) play just thirty minutes and we’re winning, that’s good for the team,” he added as Marcio Lassiter was the only starter to play over 30 minutes. 

As a result, the bench including Arnold Van Opstal got to see action. The rookie slotman scored the first points in his career and finished with six points in over two minutes.

And Fajardo can’t be prouder of his rookie teammate.

“Syempre nakakatuwa, kasi dumaan din ako sa pagiging rookie eh tapos nung first basket ko sa PBA, ganun din yung na-feel ko dati, so ganun yung nafe-feel ko ngayon para sa kanya,” Fajardo said.

“(Dapat maging) patient lang siya. Minsan kasi may mga games siya na hindi nagagamit so patient lang siya at darating rin time niya.”

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