BEFORE ‘the man,’ there was Samigue Eman.
Even for just a fleeting moment, the Alaska center took pleasure in taking on San Miguel successor June Mar Fajardo one-on-one in a duel between two of the PBA’s giants Wednesday night in the Smart Bro-Philippine Cup.
Eman alternated with Alaska resident big man Sonny Thoss in trying to contain Fajardo at the post. And though the league’s back-to-back MVP finished with monster numbers of 43 points and 20 rebounds, the Aces got away with the all-important 103-97 win over the Beermen that enhanced their shot at an outright semis berth in the all-Filipino conference.
The 6-foot-9 Eman admitted it’s hard to stop the 6-foot-10 Fajardo at the low block, so much so that Alaska’s game plan was focused more on limiting the production of the rest of the Beermen.
“Kahit naka 43 points siya, walang problema sa amin. At least yung ibang teammates niya hindi na involve at na-hold down namin,” said the 33-year-old Eman, who was fielded in for eight minutes and scored a single point.
“Tingin namin napagod na rin siya. I think we did a good job against him kahit na naka 43 points siya.”
The No. 2 overall pick by Magnolia (now San Miguel) in the 2007 draft, Eman was supposed to serve as the cornerstone of the San Miguel franchise given his height and the supposed immense promise of the center out of University of Mindanao.
But in his more than two years of stay with the Beermen, Eman didn’t get to show his true potential, eventually leading to him being traded to Alaska in 2010.
Two years later, Fajardo arrived at San Miguel as the team’s top overall pick in 2012 and became the Beermen’s acknowledged franchise player.
Eman said he’s happy with what Fajardo has achieved in the short time he has played in the league. And neither does he envy the 25-year-old pride of Pinamungahan, Cebu City.
“Wala naman sa akin ‘yun. Everybody has his own future,” said the Alaska back-up center. “I don’t see myself na ako yung big man dati (ng San Miguel), na dapat ako ang andiyan (ngayon).
“Hindi ko iniisip 'yun. Alam ko iba ang path niya, iba yung path ko.”
Like a true and gentle giant, Eman, whose father once worked for San Miguel (hence the name Samigue), said he approached Fajardo at the end of the game and congratulated him for a career game.
“Nag-congratulate ako sa kanya. Sabi ko, ‘Ang bigat-bigat mo,”’ he said of his short conversation with Fajarado. “And I told him to just keep doing what he’s doing.”
“Ni hindi ko inisip na malamangan siya (during the game). In the end, kasi 5-on-5 yan e. Give and take lang,” said Eman.