MANILA, Philippines -- San Miguel superstar June Mar Fajardo sees a bright future for Converge rookie Justin Arana after playing against the young big man for the first time last Sunday.
Fajardo put up 18 points and 16 rebounds to help the Beermen rout the FiberXers, 111-92, in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup.
Arana had four points and six boards in 22 minutes before being helped off the court in the fourth quarter after sustaining an ankle sprain. But before he suffered an injury, he was doing enough to impress the six-time PBA Most Valuable Player.
"Magaling 'yun," Fajardo said of the Converge rookie. "Sobrang bright ng future niya."
Arana had impressed in his final season with the Arellano Chiefs in the NCAA, and the FiberXers wound up selecting him with the fourth overall pick in the recent rookie draft.
For Fajardo, what makes Arana's future all the more promising is that he gets to work with one of the best big men in PBA history -- Danny Ildefonso.
Ildefonso, now a part of Converge's coaching staff, was Fajardo's mentor early in his career when they both played for San Miguel. Fajardo has regularly credited "Lakay" for helping him improve as a young player.
"Swerte 'yung bata kasi andoon si Kuya DI [Ildefonso], maga-guide siya ni Kuya DI doon, hindi siya maliligaw ng landas doon. As long as makinig siya kay Kuya DI, ayun," said Fajardo.
"As long as maging coachable siya, makikinig siya kay Kuya DI. Kasi, sobrang swerte niya na andoon si Kuya DI. Hindi naman siya papabayaan ni Kuya DI," he added.
As for his own team, Fajardo says he is pleased with how the Beermen are playing so far in the All-Filipino Conference. San Miguel has a 4-1 win-loss record, tied for first along with Barangay Ginebra.
"Sana makabalik 'yung mga teammates namin na injured. Maganda naman 'yung laro namin, so hopefully tuloy-tuloy," he said.