Expect a leaner, stronger June Mar Fajardo to show up when San Miguel Beer competes in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup starting this Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Beermen team manager Gee Abanilla said Fajardo is in prime physical condition, especially after leading Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 19th Asian Games in the past couple of months.
The 33-year-old Fajardo is coming off an injury when he suited up for Gilas in the World Cup. Then, he switched his physician conditioning a notch higher in the Asian Games, prompting the Filipinos to win their first title in 61 years.
“We have to remember that prior to the World Cup, June Mar was coming off an injury,” Abanilla told DAILY TRIBUNE in a telephone conversation.
“He showed up leaner but kept his strong inside game and upper body strength. Such commitment and discipline has made him the most consistent big man for Gilas in the FIBA World Cup and the Asian Games.”
Abanilla said Fajardo has been working hard in training. In fact, he is determined to become a better defensive player aside from retaining that feathery shooting in the perimeter and strong plays at the shaded lane.
“What made June Mar even better was the fact that he became a better defensive player. He is now displaying better laterals at the defensive end and he has developed more outside shots,” Abanilla said, emphasizing the evolution in Fajardo’s performance.
“He’s one guy who never stops learning and that’s one of the things I’ve observed about him. June Mar may not be that vocal, but he is a very competitive person and that’s one of his characters that looks deceiving. You thought that he was on the quiet side, but he is a very challenging person.”
Fajardo’s return to peak form came at a perfect time as the season-opening conference that features quality imports, including seasoned journeymen and former National Basketball Association standouts not taller than 6-foot-9.
San Miguel coach Jorge Gallent believes that with his renewed confidence, Fajardo will play a crucial role in their campaign.
“Not only June Mar, but also CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross,” said Gallent, who is looking for his first title as a PBA head coach.
“I’m sure they’ve learned a lot from Coach Tim (Cone) and their confidence is kinda high. The gold medal that they’ve received will be an added boost to their confidence.”