On night of milestones, Fajardo still eyes biggest prize

MANILA, Philippines – June Mar Fajardo isn't exactly giddy after winning his 7th Best Player of the Conference award and joining the 5,000-club in his 6th year in the PBA.

Fajardo's night full of milestones did not have a happy ending after his San Miguel Beermen absorbed a 30-point beatdown from Barangay Ginebra in Game 4 of the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup finals on Friday, August 3.

Not only did the loss dampen the Cebuano’s mood, it evened the best-of-7 affair at 2-all.

Coming off back-to-back blowout wins, the Beermen had a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead only to get their hopes spoiled by a determined Gin Kings side that skyrocketed to a 17-0 start and never looked back.

"Syempre malungkot, talo kami. Kung nanalo sana kami eh masaya pero ‘yun ganoon talaga, so bounce back na lang," said Fajardo, who finished with 15 points to become the 87th local player to reach the 5,000-point plateau.

(Of course I'm sad because we lost. If we won, I would have probably been happy but that's basketball, so we just have to bounce back.) 

Despite adding another BPC to his collection of individual awards, the reigning 4-time league Most Valuable Player did not much have to say about the coveted plum.

"Wala ‘yung isip ko doon pero blessed ako and thankful ako na nanalo ako ng BPC. Thankful ako kay God, thankful ako sa teammates ko, sa coaching staff – credit ko sa kanila 'yun kasi 'di ko naman 'yun magagawa kung 'di dahil sa kanila."

(I didn't pay much attention to it but I'm blessed and thankful that I won the BPC. I'm thankful to God, to my teammates and to our coaching staff – if not for them, I wouldn't be able to get this.)

Instead, Fajardo is turning his focus on how he can help San Miguel redeem itself as the finals series approaches its homestretch.

"Kailangan naming manalo next game kasi mahirap kasi best-of-3 na lang 'yung series," he said.

(Next game is a must-win for us because it will only get tougher since the series has become a best-of-3.) 

"Kailangan talaga magsikap – pagsikapan kunin 'yun kasi di nila ibibigay sa amin 'yun. Lesson learned. Kailangan pahinga and bounce back next game."

(We need to persevere because they will not just allow us to get away with the win. It's a lesson learned for us. We need to rest and bounce back next game.)

Game 5 is on Sunday, August 5, at the Araneta Coliseum. Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.