Fajardo proud to relive college connection with pal Heruela
Brian Heruela made the most of his opportunity in Alex Cabagnot's absence. Jerome Ascano

JUNE Mar Fajardo knew that it would only take exposure for Brian Heruela to shine for San Miguel Beer and relive his vintage play when they were still in college at University of Cebu.

With Alex Cabagnot out with a foot injury, Heruela showed his true worth with 17 points, a career-high six steals, five assists, and two boards, against only two turnovers to put up the highest plus-minus among SMB players with a +25 in just 23 minutes off the bench.

“Kulang lang talaga sa kanya yung minutes lang, pero lagi naman siyang ready,” Fajardo said of his college buddy. “Nagpapakundisyon naman siya so nakikita naman ni coach so ginamit siya.”

“Syempre nakaka-proud, ‘di ba?” he added. “Lagi kong sinasabi sa kanya na ready lang. Nagpapakundisyon naman siya lagi. Ayun, proud ako na nag-step up siya sa game na 'to.”

Fajardo noted the improvements of Heruela since they formed a potent one-two punch for the Webmasters in the Cesafi league in Cebu.

 “Yung maturity, ganun (ang nag-improve),” Fajardo said. “Pareho kaming nag-mature, yung aggressiveness niya, yung hustle nandun pa rin since nung colelege days namin.”

Heruela fed Fajardo a handful of times against the Batang Pier, leading to the latter scattering a league conferece-high 34 points on 14-of-18 shooting in 40 minutes, although the four-time reigning MVP also deflected credit to the rest of the team that picked up the slack in the absence of injured Alex Cabagnot.

“’Di lang naman si Brian nag-step up eh, lahat naman ng pinasok ni coach nag-step up,” Fajardo said. “Pati nasa bench na ‘di nagamit laki din naitulong nila sa team dahil sila yung tumutulong sa amin sa practice, so ayun, overall ... parang kami nagpapanalo sa team, ‘di lang isa o dalawa.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos