Fajardo braces for up-tempo game as SMB takes on Meralco

As much as he would like to, San Miguel Beer center June Mar Fajardo failed to celebrate Christmas Day with his family in Pinamungahan, Cebu over the weekend following the cancellation of flights due to Typhoon ‘Nina’ which wrought havoc on Bicol Region and on some parts of Visayas.

On Wednesday night, the 6-foot-10 Fajardo, the league’s reigning three-time MVP, intends to sustain his own onslaught as he leads the Beermen’s charge against the Meralco Bolts at the resumption of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup action at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Good for 22 points, 17.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 assists per game so far, Fajardo is expected to assert his usual dominant force in the lane against a struggling Bolts side, losers of their last two matches, as the Beermen intend to prop up their already league-leading 4-1 mark nearing the halfway point of the eliminations.

However, the Cebuano giant could not help but stay worried over Meralco, which continues to blow hot and cold as they’re currently standing at the bottom 4 with a 2-3 mark.

And Fajardo already has an inkling of what the guard-heavy Bolts will try to do.

“Takbuhan gusto nila kasi guard-based sila. As usual, more pick-and-roll plays rin ang gagawin nila,” he told FOX Sports at the Beermen’s practice on Tuesday at the Roxas Boulevard-based venue.

“Sila ‘ata number 1 sa fastbreak (points). Takbuhan ang mangyayari bukas kaya kailangan namin magpakondisyon at makipagsabayan sa kanila.”

While he’s been making the most of his average playing time of 35.4 minutes per game, Fajardo admitted he’s more than glad to see the likes of his backup big men, Gabby Espinas, Yancy De Ocampo and JayR Reyes, deliver just like what they did in their 26-point victory over NLEX last December 17 in Cagayan De Oro City.

And Fajardo doesn’t mind if his playing minutes will start dwindling.

“Ang importante naman sa akin every game, manalo kami,” he said.

“Alam naman natin kung ano maiko-contribute nila sa team. Alam nila kung paano makaktulong sa team. Matagal na rin kasi silang lahat dito sa liga.”

Still, Fajardo could not help but look forward to his reunion with his family.

“Gusto ko man i-celebrate ‘yung Christmas kasama ang pamilya ko kaso hindi naman nangyari. Baka this New year na lang, uuwi ako,” he said. – Jerome Lagunzad

Follow this writer on Twitter: @BudoyLagunzad