AFTER coming to terms with the fact that budding star center June Mar Fajardo won’t be able to suit up in a highly-anticipated showdown with Barangay Ginebra, Petron is now bracing for the worst in a crucial stretch in its PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup campaign.
The 6-foot-10 big man is expected to miss at least the next four games of the Boosters after suffering a sprained right MCL Monday - and not a sprained ACL as what initially came out on social media.
Team sources told Spin.ph the Cebuano native will have to sit out for the next two weeks to recover from the injury.
The only good thing to come out of the mishap is that the 2012 top rookie pick did not suffer an ACL tear as initially feared and therefore won't be sidelined for a long time as he can walk on his own, although there is swelling in the knee and some pain.
“Nakakalakad naman siya ng maayos, may pain nga lang kaya hindi talaga pwede ilaro. Maga ang tuhod niya eh. Buti hindi ACL, buti rin hindi napunit ang MCL. Matagal yun,” said the source, who refused to be named pending the official announcement of the team on Fajardo’s condition.
“Kailangan lang talaga namin ngayon matutong lumaro ng wala si June Mar. Mabibigat pa naman ang next assignments namin,” added the source.
However, Fajardo's injury comes at a tough stretch for the Blaze Boosters.
After Ginebra, Petron is set to take on the defending champion Talk `N Text on Saturday and Alaska Aces on January 4.
Assuming Fajardo will be out until January 15, he will also miss the Boosters’ game against the Barako Bull Energy, Globalport Batang Pier, and the San Mig Coffee Mixers.
“Kailangan talaga sa anim na yun, makasubi naman kami ng panalo kahit kalahati nun,” said the team insider. “Pero knowing our players, a lot will step up. We’ve been in this situation before.”
Petron is currently tied at the top of the standings with Ginebra at 7-1.
The Boosters went unbeaten in their first seven games in the All-Filipino tournament until absorbing a 95-99 loss in overtime against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Admittedly, Fajardo is the most important piece in Petron’s system as the 24-year-old big man serves as the team’s main threat inside.
"Ang hirap noon (to see Fajardo out for long). Napakabigat nun. JM is averaging double-double, he's playing the best basketball of his life. And he's loved by everyone dahil napakabait na tao," coach Gee Abanilla said.