MANILA, Philippines – With the way he is known as a premier shot blocker, June Mar Fajaro has also mastered the art of blocking the negative things people throw at him.
That’s probably the reason why “The Kraken” was locked in in Gilas‘ 90-83 win over Chinese Taipei in front of a home crowd of 11,444 at the Araneta Coliseum Monday, November 27, that marked the Philippines’ sweep of the first window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Even after an impressive 2016-2017 PBA season that saw Fajardo win two conference titles and a historic fourth consecutive MVP award, people still had doubts if the Cebuano pride can perform in the international stage the way he does in the local scene.
But after tallying 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals off the bench and basically putting Quincy Davis III into early foul trouble, Fajardo has proven that he is a legitimate threat, not just for the San Miguel Beermen but also for the national team.
Asked if his outing against the Taiwanese was a statement of sorts for his doubters, Fajardo disagreed.
“Wala akong problema, kung ano ‘yung sinasabi nila, hindi ko pinoproblema ‘yun. Basta ako, tatanggapin ko kung ano ‘yung role ko. Basta kung ano ‘yung macontribute ko sa team, gagawin ko,” said the softspoken big man.
(I don’t have any problems. Whatever they say, I don’t make those things as my problems. I will accept what role is given to me. Whatever I can contribute to the team, I will do it.)
Head coach Chot Reyes was all praises for Fajardo, who helped Philippines come back from a 5-19 hole by scoring 7 markers in the first quarter, the most points scored in the period for Gilas.
“I thought June Mar saved us. We got off to a terrible start and it was a big luxury for us to have a guy like June Mar coming off the bench,” said Reyes.
The firebrand tactician added that he initially talked to Fajardo about not starting the game and the 6-foot-10 behemoth said he was perfectly fine of being part of the second unit.
“Sinabi niya sa akin, okay lang whatever it is that we need. (He told me it is okay, whatever it is that we need of him.) Today, he showed it. Even in Japan, he had a great performance but today, he was fantastic.”
Even with back-to-back wins for the books, Fajardo is not planning on listeting to his naysayers, especially that his Beermen are trying to defend their Philippine Cup title in the forthcoming PBA season and Gilas facing powerhouse Australia in the next window of the Qualifiers on February 22, 2018.
“Motivation ko ‘yung makatulong sa team, hindi ko pinapakinggan ‘yung mga kung anong sinasabi ng iba.” (My motivation is to help the team, I don’t listen to whatever other people are saying.) – Rappler.com