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    Jul 24, 2022
    June Mar Fajardo San Miguel vs Blackwater
    June Mar Fajardo and the rest of San Miguel look to finish off Blackwater right away.
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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    CHICAGO -- While Matthew Wright is off to a wedding, the Phoenix Super LPG, his apparently soon-to-be-former team, went to a funeral and buried another lackluster conference that ended with a 3-8 record.

    With the Philippine Cup conference playoffs set to begin Sunday, life goes on in the PBA.

    And the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    San Miguel is on the top of the heap with a dominant 9-2 card, which is no surprise given how June Mar Fajardo has played his best basketball since suffering a complete fracture on his right tibia last February 2020.

    The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Cebu native, is averaging 18.5 points and 13.5 rebounds while playing all of his team's 11 elimination round games. The 32-year old six-time MVP is seeking his ninth PBA title since joining the league in 2012.

    Against skidding Blackwater, which has lost five straight, the Beermen will be difficult to overcome, more so that they hold a twice-to-beat advantage.


    After the Mikey Williams drama, Talk N' Text, the mother ship of the MVP group, finished at 8-3 and will be a threat to the SMC side. Williams, whose drawn-out renegotiation talks provided an unhealthy distraction, has appeared to have moved on from the circus and is balling lights out.

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    Williams leads this conference in scoring with 21.7 points per while shooting 36.6 percent from 3. His teammate, Roger Pogoy, is second in the league in scoring with 19 per outing.

    Mercilessly flogged by Gilas fans on social media over the national team's ninth-place finish at the recently concluded Fiba Asia Cup in Jakarta, TNT head coach Chot Reyes is back in his usual, more familiar playground that is the PBA playoffs.


    And then there's Ginebra, also 8-3 in the scheme of things.

    With Tim Cone back from his NBA Summer League excursion, the Gin Kings are poised to make another title run.


    Once the object of the Japan B.League's relentless affection, Japeth Aguilar is having another monster conference. Not even a bout with dengue could stop this 6-foot-9, 235-pound force of nature.

    Aguilar averaged 16.7 points and 8.4 rebounds through 11 elimination round games.

    Scottie Thompson is another lethal weapon for Ginebra. The do-it-all guard also made an imprint in the eliminations, averaging 15.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists per.

    If you look up the word "versatile" in the dictionary, you'll find the picture of "Iskati" next to the definition.

    As if the Gin Kings didn't have enough firepower, the team announced early today that they are activating No.2 pick Jeremiah Gray.


      FASTBREAK. After a lethargic 0-2 start, Magnolia went on a 8-1 bender the rest of the way to rest at 8-3. With coach Chito Victolero at the helm, the Hotshots will be a tough out.

      Amid the sadness of the passing of coach Norman Black's mother, some sliver of joy has emerged at Meralco where interim coach Paolo Trillo has quietly guided the Bolts to a 6-1 record in Norman's absence.


      But the Bolts will have their hands full against Ginebra in the quarterfinals.

      The Terrafirma Dyip has officially bogged down and is headed to the shop of ineptitude where the team will hope to nurse a deep wound caused by a winless journey of 11 games.

      If it's any consolation, Terrafirma has now laid the groundwork of beating Blackwater's PBA record of a 29-game losing streak.

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      June Mar Fajardo and the rest of San Miguel look to finish off Blackwater right away.
      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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