Looking back at missing key players in a PBA Finals series
Injuries are an unfortunate part of sports. The effects can be debilitating to a team especially when they happen at the most inopportune time – like when a team’s star gets stricken down.
In the current PBA Philippine Cup Finals, defending champion San Miguel was on the verge of being swept by Alaska in 4 games without the injured June Mar Fajardo, the reigning back-to-back Most Valuable Player.
The Beermen summoned enough of their pride to extend the series. If they can complete the mother of all comebacks remains to be seen.
In PBA history, however, this isn’t the first time where a team’s star was lost for the series. Some teams pulled through; some didn’t. It should be noted that Fajardo is the one player in this list that we have compiled who has missed the entire series thus far.
Let’s take a look at some of these teams.
Presto vs Purefoods, All-Filipino Conference 1990
Late in the series with Presto holding a 3-2 lead in the All-Filipino Conference, main man Allan Caidic (who was named that season’s Most Valuable Player) fractured the fourth metacarpal bone in his shooting hand when he tried to poke the ball away from Glenn Capacio but instead hit the Purefoods guard’s hip. The injury ended his conference stint (within two weeks, he was practicing for the national team). Purefoods took Game 6 but in the no-tomorrow Game 7, Arnie Tuadles stood tall to give Presto its last PBA crown.
Talk ’N Text vs Petron, Governors’ Cup 2011
Heading into the Finals, TNT topped the league with a 9-4 record. Petron Blaze was second best with an 8-5 slate.
Petron’s Arwind Santos nosed out Jayson Castro for the Best Player of the Conference. TNT was going for the Grand Slam. The series was tied 2-2 when Castro sustained an MCL injury. He managed to play in spite of the pain (he clearly was a shade of his former self) but Petron took two of the next 3 matches to win their 19th league crown while spoiling their corporate rivals’ bid.
Rain or Shine vs B-Meg, Governors’ Cup 2011-12
The Elasto Painters booked their first title slot under head coach Yeng Guiao. They took a 1-0 Finals lead against the Tim Cone-coached B-Meg squad. In Game 2, Paul Lee, who would go on to win the Rookie of the Year Award, sustained a shoulder injury that ended his season. B-Meg leveled the series but RoS went up 3-1. Then the Llamados won the next two to send the championship series to a do-or-die match. In Game 7, Jamelle Cornley, Jeff Chan, and Gabe Norwood conspired in a comeback to take the game and the title from B-Meg.
Ginebra vs Alaska, Commissioner’s Cup 2012-13
Heading into the Finals, Ginebra import Vernon Macklin's right thigh got injured during the crowd-favorite squad’s semifinals victory over Talk ’N Text. While Macklin wasn’t the Best Import (the award went to Alaska’s Rob Dozier), he was a force of nature for Ginebra. You could say that where he went so did Ginebra. During the Finals, he was hobbled and Alaska took advantage of his lack of mobility to squash Ginebra and extend the Gin Kings' title drought.
Again, it should be noted that Fajardo has yet to play. Nevertheless, the fate of teams in a Finals series with a key injury has been split. Some find ways to win, but others find the loss of a star player too great to overcome. – Rappler.com