MANILA, Philippines – With the participation of San Miguel Beer center June Mar Fajardo hanging high in the air, Alaska Aces coach Alex Compton said they will prepare for all possibilities where the dominant center is concerned in the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup Finals
The 6-foot-10 reigning back-to-back MVP is currently nursing a knee injury he sustained at the end of the semifinals. Fajardo missed Game 1 and is listed, according to San Miguel Beermen head coach Leo Austria, as day-to-day for the best-of-7 series.
“We’ll try to cover all bases,” Compton shared his plans after Alaska nipped the defending champions, 100-91, on Sunday, January 17.
Compton, who led the Aces to 2 finals appearances last season and lost to the Beermen twice, acknowledged the confusion over Fajardo’s status.
“They have every right to not disclose and if I was them I wouldn't disclose either. That's their business, that's their family, I don’t have the right to get in there,” he explained. “We can just send well-wishes and hope he's okay.”
“We'll try to prepare and have our options,” Compton added. “We'll just try to be thorough and always be ready if he comes in. I think this whole series will have to be a game of rapid adjustments. We didn’t actually know how they’re gonna play without June Mar.”
A statement from team manager Gee Abanilla on Saturday, January 16, said Fajardo's anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) remain intact and the team is "confident" about the big man's chances of playing in the PBA Finals.
But Fajardo's status has been shrouded in uncertainty over the weekend amid conflicting reports saying there is a partial tear in his ACL.
Austria confirmed there is a contusion and some recurring swelling in Fajardo’s knee and they expect him to play in the series, though cannot be sure when.
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In the meantime, Compton and Alaska are preparing for worst case scenarios but also aim to capitalize and go up 2-0.
“I hope he’s okay. It’s not my business to ask about their players. We don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” said Compton, who admitted he’d like to see if his Aces can beat the full-strength Beermen.
“Personally I like challenges. We lost by one possession to them with June Mar in the all-Filipino last year. I’d like to see if we can beat them with June Mar but things happen.”
Without Fajardo, Alaska took advantage and dominated the rebounds in Game 1, 48-28, as well as second chance points, 23-4. The Aces’ slow start was largely to blame for the game being close and decided in the end.
Those 28 rebounds of San Miguel are a record low, according to statistician Fidel Mangonon III, in the PBA Finals and for the franchise. The Beermen missed Fajardo's 14.9 rebounding average.
Game 2 of the series is on Tuesday, January 19, at 7 pm. (SCHEDULE: 2016 PBA Philippine Cup Finals – Alaska vs San Miguel)
PBA Finals: Alaska coach Alex Compton talks about their Game 1 win Posted by Jane Yvette Bracher on Sunday, 17 January 2016