AS tough of a pill the loss is to swallow, a somber June Mar Fajardo acknowledged that this time, Ginebra was the better team.
“Masakit,” he admitted after emerging from the dugout following San Miguel’s 93-77 Game Six defeat in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Wednesday.
“Ine-expect namin na mag-champion kami. Nakakalungkot, pero yun nga, di mo naman maipapanalo ang lahat. Last conference, masaya kami kasi nag-champion kami. Siguro this time, para sa kanila talaga. Tanggapin natin.”
Fajardo made up for his lapses in a Game Five loss, pouring his heart out with 29 points and 15 rebounds in 42 minutes of play. But as herculean as his contribution was, his best still wasn’t enough to force a Game Seven.
The Cebuano giant, though, had no regrets seeing how tough the Beermen fought to keep their Grand Slam bid alive.
“Nandoon naman yung effort. Nagmintis lang talaga kami ng marami, may mga lapses din kami,” he said as San Miguel missed 62 of its 95 attempts and committed 13 turnovers in the loss. “Part din naman ng game yun at kailangan lang namin matutunan yun. Lesson learned ito na natalo kami.”
But rather than taking this runner-up finish hard, Fajardo remained grateful to be in this position.
“Yung ibang tao, nage-expect na lagi kaming magcha-champion, di ba? Dagdag pressure din sa amin,” he acknowledged. “Blessed kami na nandito kami sa ganitong posisyon dahil yung ibang teams nga, laging laglag sa eliminations pa lang. Kami halos every conference, nasa taas kami, finals o semifinals.”
And he’s looking at this as a wake-up call of sorts for San Miguel, knowing that getting to the top is one thing but staying there is another challenge on its own.
“Dapat din magpalakas kami. Di kami pwede maging kampante. Hindi porke't San Miguel ang kalaban ng ibang team, magro-roll over sila eh. Mas gaganahan sila maglaro pag kalaban kami. So kami, dapat itataas din namin laro namin.
For now, Fajardo would like to take advantage of this rare vacation, healing up as he and the Beermen plot their road back to the top.
“Sa ngayon, gusto ko munang magpahinga. Gusto ko munang mag-recover. Di ko muna iisipin yung next conference. Kailangan muna naming magpahinga. Tsaka na namin isipin yung next conference after ng bakasyon namin,” he said.
“Wala namang gustong matalo sa championship pero nangyari na eh. Panalo sila. I-congratulate natin sila. Ginawa din naman nila yung best nila. Still, proud ako sa mga teammates ko, sa coaching staff, sa management sa suporta nila sa team. Short kami ngayon, subukan namin next conference.”