FOR an entirely different reason, San Miguel Beer is now in the news and that’s because it is likely to play in the coming PBA Philippine Cup without its prized center in June Mar Fajardo.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo, the most dominant center to ever make the pro league, has been confirmed to have suffered a ‘fractured right tibia’ in a big blow less than a month before the Beermen could launch their 6-peat campaign in the prestigious All-Filipino conference.
‘Malaki,’ was how SMB coach Leo Austria described the effect of Fajardo to the team that will play right away on opening day of the kick-off conference on March 1 against Magnolia Hotshots.
“He’s a big loss to our team,” stressed Austria during a short conversation with People’s Journal yesterday.
According to the SMB statement, the Cebuano giant suffered injury during the team’s practice last Monday. He was immediately brought to a hospital, where assessment on the extent of his injury and initial treatment were made.
The statement added that Fajardo ‘underwent successful surgery last February 4 and will be scheduled to go through post-operation rehabilitation to allow him to recover at the soonest possible time.’
“During this rehabilitation phase, the team regrets that he won’t be able to play for the San Miguel Beermen in the Philippine Cup.”
Because of the injury, June Mar is also not likely to join the Philippine team in any of the upcoming international competitions, notably the FIBA qualifier.
“The San Miguel Beermen management is committed to ensuring that June Mar will get the best medical care, and would like to thank fans for the messages of concern and well wishes,” the statement added.
Without June Mar, other contenders would now exploit the situation to bolster their own campaign in the PBA’s crown jewel which the Beermen had won for five straight seasons, starting in 2015.
In that string of five All-Filipino titles, Fajardo has been considered to be one of the key players for the team.
Already, Austria said the coaching staff has been trying to find ways to address the team’s problem, with the Philippine Cup a good three and half weeks away.
In the absence of Fajardo, Austria said Mo Tautuaa – whom SMB acquired for giving away big man Christian Standhardinger in trade – would now bear the brunt of the same position delegated to June Mar.
“Si Mo Tautuaa, siya talaga, since Nawala si June Mar, so masosolo niya yung pwesto. Yung time na binibigay namin kay June Mar ay sa kanya ‘yon,” said Austria.