PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Fajardo not dwelling on late benching as San Miguel falls to Bay Area in semis opener

Delfin Dioquino
Fajardo not dwelling on late benching as San Miguel falls to Bay Area in semis opener

GUT-WRENCHING LOSS. June Mar Fajardo and San Miguel trail Bay Area 0-1 in their best-of-five semifinals.

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June Mar Fajardo attributes the loss to 'breaks of the game' as San Miguel blows a 16-point lead and falls victim to Bay Area by just a single point

MANILA, Philippines – June Mar Fajardo refused to dwell on his late benching as San Miguel squandered a 16-point lead and absorbed a gut-wrenching 103-102 loss to Bay Area in their semifinal opener on Wednesday, December 14.

Fajardo gave the Beermen a 103-99 lead with under a minute remaining after scoring off his own offensive rebound before acting head coach Jorge Gallent subbed him out for Jericho Cruz.

Without the six-time MVP – who came up with two crucial rejections midway through the fourth quarter – on the court, the Dragons scored back-to-back buckets to steal the victory and draw first blood in the best-of-five series.

Those two crucial Bay Area baskets came inside the paint, with Hayden Blankley converting on a short stab to cut their deficit to a whisker and Kobey Lam skying for the go-ahead layup on the fastbreak.

By the time Fajardo returned, it was too little too late for San Miguel as import Devon Scott missed the potential game-winning jumper.

Fajardo, though, attributed the loss to “breaks of the game.”

“It was the decision of coach because we needed a faster lineup on the court,” said Fajardo in Filipino after finishing with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.

When Fajardo got benched, the Beermen went small with four guards in Cruz, CJ Perez, Marcio Lassiter, and Simon Enciso, and only one big man in Scott.

“It just so happened that we lost,” Fajardo said.

The defeat snapped the six-game winning streak of San Miguel, which swept Converge in their best-of-three quarterfinals.

As heartbreaking as the loss may be, Fajardo said the Beermen need a quick turnaround as they shoot for the equalizer when they meet the Dragons again on Friday, December 16, at the PhilSports Arena.

“The good thing is this is a best-of-five series so we have time to adjust,” Fajardo said. “We need to watch the game and make adjustments for the next game.” – Rappler.com

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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.