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June Mar Fajardo unfazed by killer stretch

While June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer is making a strong case for a seventh Most Valuable Player award in the Philippine Basketball Association, he is also busy preparing for a killer stretch.

The 6-foot-10 slotman is headed for a very busy schedule as he backstops the Beermen’s campaign in the East Asia Super League Champions Week from 1 to 5 March.

Together with TNT Tropang Giga, the Beermen will represent the PBA in the prestigious tourney where elite teams from South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan will see action.

Prior to that, he will see action in the PBA Governors’ Cup against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Thursday and against TNT on Sunday before reinforcing Gilas Pilipinas in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on 24 February against Lebanon and 27 February against Jordan.

“Our bodies need to recharge,” Fajardo, who is leading the statistical derby for MVP of the season as well as the balloting for the return of the PBA All-Star Game in Passi, Iloilo from 9 to 12 March.

In their previous game, Fajardo was unstoppable, finishing with 29 points on a steady 11-of-13 shooting on top of 12 rebounds and a block to lead the Beermen to a 145-132 win over NorthPort.

Fajardo’s performance allowed him to make up for his sub-par showing in their 107-103 loss to Converge where he only wound up with seven points on only 3-of-4 shooting from the field while fouling out of the game with less than three minutes in the game.

But among the tasks being given to Fajardo, it is his role at Gilas that appears to be a lot more challenging.

Without 7-foot-2 center Kai Sotto, 6-foot-9 forward Japeth Aguilar and another injured player in Poy Erram, Fajardo is likely to play major minutes seeing action for Gilas in the coming window.

Both games will be played at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena.

“The schedule is really hectic. We need to have good sleep, eat well, vegetables, preferably,” Fajardo added.

“I don’t know what to expect in our Gilas campaign if I will play heavy minutes, but I know there are several other big men who can help out.”

Without Sotto, Aguilar and Erram, Gilas will give up a lot of size as the team has enlisted Justin Brownlee to become its naturalized player for the coming window in place of center Ange Kouame.

Aside from Fajardo, other big men who were attending the workouts are Raymond Almazan of Meralco, incoming Ateneo freshman Mason Amos, collegiate star Kevin Quiambao of La Salle, and former University of the Philippines star Carl Tamayo.

Multiple-time national team member Kelly Williams is also making his return to Gilas at age 41 as the team badly needs additional help up front.

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