Vietnam finds Fajardo code hard to crack as 'Kraken' breaks loose
MANILA, Philippines – As Tim Cone simply put it, there's a reason June Mar Fajardo is the reigning five-time MVP in the PBA.
Vietnam got a first-hand experience of the wrath of the "Kraken" as Fajardo dominated and ran roughshod over the visiting foes in Gilas Pilipinas' 110-69 blowout win in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games on Friday, December 6.
Slotted in the starting lineup unlike in their 52-point rout of Singapore two days ago, Fajardo quickly went to work, tallying 11 points at halftime before winding up with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
The Cebuano giant did all that in less than 16 minutes of play as Vietnam found him too big and too strong on the post.
"One of the reasons we wanted him to start the game rather than come off the bench, we wanted to go to him early, and we knew they didn't have anybody to match up to him," Cone said of Fajardo.
True enough, Fajardo scored at will, shrugging off double and triple teams as defenders bounced off him to help Gilas Pilipinas punch its semifinals ticket.
"He's a five-time MVP, and there's a reason why he's a five-time MVP, and he showed that tonight," Cone added.
For Fajardo, he's ready to do anything for that SEA Games gold medal he has yet to win in his decorated basketball career.
"Just like coach said, we just need to be aggressive and I should always seal at the basket. They didn't have someone as big as me so that's what I did," Fajardo said in a mix of Filipino and English.
But he was quick to downplay that notching the gold is his way of compensating for San Miguel's failed bid to clinch a rare PBA Grand Slam this season.
"I've stopped thinking about the Grand Slam. I want to win in this SEA Games because I haven't won a gold in the SEA Games," Fajardo said.
Fajardo and Co. go for a sweep of Group A when Gilas Pilipinas faces Myanmar on Saturday, December 7, at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com