MANILA, Philippines – The San Mig Coffee Mixers will need to take Petron’s rookie center JuneMar Fajardo “out of his comfort zone” if they want to take a critical 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Finals series in the PBA Governors Cup.
This, according to San Mig head coach Tim Cone.
The Coffee Mixers lost a 28-point lead in Game Four before escaping with an 88-86 victory to tie the series at two games apiece.
But they were torched by Fajardo, who dominated inside on his way to a 20-point, 26-rebound performance.
“We’ve used a lot of guys to defend him,” Cone told Joaquin Henson of The Philippine Star. “Joe (DeVance), Rafi (Reavis), Yancy (de Ocampo) at times, even Marqus (Blakely) and Ping (Marc Pingris).”
“He’s just too big,” added Cone. “It’s rare that a player comes out with his power, size, height, athleticism and smarts. He’s overpowering us. He tracks the ball extremely well for rebounds, and he hurt us with his offensive rebounding.”
“We’ve got to do a better job of taking him out of his comfort zone.”
Fajardo teamed up with import Elijah Millsap to spark Petron in the second half. His 26 rebounds were three short of the record set by Marcelo Simbulan in 1975.
“JuneMar played huge for us with 20-20, how rare is that for a local?” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla. “He’s got a great attitude.”
Abanilla said Petron had “nothing to be ashamed of” despite losing Game 4.
“We lost it, but we’re not down in the series. I told the guys to hold their heads up, think positive, because we displayed character in battling back from 28 down,” he pointed out.
“We know it’s down to a best-of-three series, so we expect a war in Game 5.”
Game 5 of the Governors Cup Finals tips off at 4:45 p.m. Sunday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.