MANILA, Philippines -- The Meralco Bolts have had little success in stopping June Mar Fajardo in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series, with the San Miguel center having dominated their first three games.
Fajardo is averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds so far, while making 58% of his field goals and 74% of his free throws. In SMB's 96-91 triumph in Game 3 on Sunday night, the "Kraken" put up 21 points and 16 rebounds while going 5-of-7 from the field and 11-of-16 from the free throw line.
"Credit sa Meralco, maganda 'yung depensa nila sa akin," said Fajardo, who was double- and triple-teamed throughout the game as the Bolts sought to deny him the ball.
"Buti na lang, naka-score 'yung mga teammates ko," he added. "And then, noong second half, medyo nakakuha ako ng bola, nakaka-offensive rebound ako, and then ayun, naka-score ako."
With Meralco focusing their defense on Fajardo, the Beermen went to CJ Perez and Vic Manuel, and they responded by scoring 26 and 11 points, respectively. But it was still Fajardo who put the finishing touches on the win, converting a clutch layup with 1:35 to play after a Jericho Cruz airball to put the game out of the Bolts' reach.
Fajardo said after the game that he has no issues with being a decoy for his teammates and was mostly unfazed with the physical defense being played against him by Meralco. The SMB center drew 14 fouls in the game, while being defended by the likes of Raymar Jose, Raymond Almazan, and Noy Baclao.
"Ine-expect ko naman 'yun," Fajardo said of the hard-nosed defense employed by the Bolts in an effort to stop him. "Hinahanda ko ang katawan ko para sa physicality. Expected na 'yun, sa akin lang kailangan mag-focus every game."
"So hindi ko na kailangan mag-complain sa ref, 'di ko trabaho 'yun. Trabaho ng referee 'yun kung tatawagan or hindi," he added. "So kailangan ko lang mag-focus sa game."
That he only attempted seven shots in Game 3 was not a problem for Fajardo, who stressed that he will do what he can to help the Beermen win.
"Kailangan ko mag-focus sa kung paano ako makakatulong sa team," he said. "Kung sa rebound lang, kung hindi ako mag-score, okay lang sa akin basta makatulong ako sa team."
Fajardo and the Beermen now have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, putting them closer to a return to the All-Filipino finals.
Game 4 is set for Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
PBA Season 47 games can be streamed live and on-demand on iWantTFC with a Premium subscription, available worldwide except Philippines and US.
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