June Mar Fajardo was the happiest when San Miguel Beer ended its long drought by winning the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup title late Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fajardo, the gentle giant from Cebu, said it was one of the sweetest victories as it came on the heels of a gruesome injury that nearly ended his basketball career.
The six-time Most Valuable Player suffered a fractured tibia while the Beermen were preparing for the opening of the league’s 45th season in 2020.
When the pandemic broke out, Fajardo was recuperating, prompting the Beermen to lose their invincibility in the next couple of years.
The road to recovery wasn’t easy as well.
Fajardo had to sit out for more than a year while suffering minor setbacks along the way. And while struggling to regain his shape, his mother — Marites — passed away in August of last year.
“I’m happy because we were able to return to top,” said Fajardo, who was named as Finals MVP after posting averages of 19 points on a sizzling 70 percent field goal shooting, 16.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.
“What we went through wasn’t easy. We failed to win the title in the past couple of years. That’s why we’re happy that we finally won the title. This is something that we should cherish.”
“I was also injured and was sidelined for almost two years. Then, something happened to our family. But things happen for a reason, right? God has a plan. He will not give you trials that you can’t overcome.”
Fajardo said now that they have successfully reclaimed the title, his first order of business is to go home to Cebu to dedicate his title to his mother.
“Now, I will go home — maybe tomorrow or the following day,” he said.
“I will go to the cemetery to talk to Mama. I will stay there. Of course, I miss her. It’s been a while since I visited her. That’s why I will go home to relax.”
He said while in Cebu, basketball will be the last thing on his mind.
“I will not think about it. I will put basketball out of my mind because we’re so exhausted. I need to rest so I will be fresh when I come back.”