PETRON assistant coach and team consultant Todd Purves dreams of seeing sophomore center June Mar Fajardo develop his skill set in the mold of Memphis Grizzlies star Marc Gasol's someday.
Speaking after the Petron sophomore dished off his most impressive game of the season against San Mig, Purves said the sky is the limit for Fajardo because he is a fast learner and a hard worker in practice.
“(Fajardo's) a coachable kid so we work on him everyday,” Purves said. “He’s working real hard, he’s a wonderful kid and he’s easy to work with. I expect him to continue to get better.”
As it is, the 24-year-old big man from Cebu has already become a giant problem for opposing teams, thanks to a major leap in his development that started towards the end of his rookie season in the PBA.
Against San Mig, Fajardo was once again a formidable force in and around the paint as he defied all defenders thrown at him by coach Tim Cone to burn the Mixers for 21 points and a season-high 25 rebounds.
Purves, though, feels Fajardo is only just scratching the surface of his potential.
The Grizzlies scout hopes to see the big man improve by leaps and bounds as he and a battery of coaches take over the mentoring of Fajardo after Danny Ildefonso - who took him under his wings since his first day with Petron - was dropped by the San Miguel-controlled ballclub.
“It’s all round like what we do is work on bigs and small (players). We have a number of coaches and I’ll be down there to be with Peter (Martin) and Leo (Austria), so it’s not just one person putting in that responsibility,” he said.
If there's one player Purves wants Fajardo to model his game after, it is Grizzlies star Gasol who isn't as gifted athletically as the other NBA big men yet has learned to maximize his height and heft.
Once Fajardo learns to defend like Gasol, Purves said he will be an even bigger presence during games.
“Defensively, his timing, not only just his post defense, but his timing on the weak side defense and his rotations,” said the American mentor, pointing to one aspect of Fajardo's game that needs improvement.
“I want to say, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA, Marc Gasol, is not particularly athletic, but he knows where he’s supposed to be and clogs that up,” he added.
"That’s ideally where we want to get June Mar."