SMB coach says June Mar Fajardo will dress up for Game 4 - to receive Best Player award
SMB coach Leo Austria says June Mar Fajardo is willing to play in Game 4, but adds the Beermen do not want to take the risk. Karlo Sacamos

SAN Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria insisted he will not field June Mar Fajardo in Game Four of the PBA Philippine Finals against Alaska on Sunday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig where the Beermen seek to extend the best-of-seven series.

Fajardo earlier signified his desire to play despite nursing a left knee injury he sustained in the semifinals against Rain or Shine.

“Nakakatuwa na gusto niya maglaro…pero hindi ko siya papalaruin dahil ten days siya walang practice,” Austria told over the phone hours after their training at Philsports Arena.

“He’s the future of Philippine basketball,” Austria reiterated.

Austria said Fajardo paid a visit but didn’t practice on Saturday afternoon as he was coming from a therapy session at a rehab center.

The SMB coach, though, confirmed the reigning league MVP will suit up – but merely for awarding ceremony purposes.

“Mas okay na naka-suit up siya para maayos pag tumanggap man siya ng BPC award,” Austria said of Fajardo, who’s a cinch to win a record third straight all-Filipino BPC award and fourth overall after norming 26 points on 58.9-percent shooting, 14.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, and 1.7 assists in 36.8 minutes through the semifinals.

Austria remains upbeat despite the adversity his team is facing against the Beermen.

“It’s almost impossible, but we’ll still give them a good fight,” the champion coach said. “It’s for our fans.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos