MANILA -- June Mar Fajardo was fielded in for the first time since suffering a scary injury back in the semifinals two weeks ago.
The Best Player of the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup checked in with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter and went right to work, scoring on a step-back jumper.
Limited to only, for his standards, 16 minutes and 28 seconds of action, he wound up with only, for his standards again, 13 points and four rebounds.
Despite the substandard numbers, coach Leo Austria was nonetheless nothing but happy to see his franchise player back on the floor and leading San Miguel to victory. As he put it, “The players and fans were inspired by June Mar.”
The Beermen mentor said that he has repeatedly told Fajardo that he will remain on the sidelines as long as he’s not yet 100 percent.
The back-to-back MVP apparently has pretty good persuading powers, however, as he was able to change his coach’s mind. “Actually, he’s not 100 percent, but he insisted that he wants to be with the team. Win or lose, he wants to be inside the court,” Austria stated.
He then continued, “He said he owed it to the fans because they want him to be on the court.”
Although surprising, Fajardo’s return was met with approval even from their opponents. “We were a little bit surprised, but we were prepared for him. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for Gilas (Pilipinas),” Alaska coach Alex Compton said.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.