PBA Philippine Cup

Focus on June Mar Fajardo as Meralco aims to contain San Miguel giant in PBA finals

Delfin Dioquino

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Focus on June Mar Fajardo as Meralco aims to contain San Miguel giant in PBA finals

2V1. June Mar Fajardo in action for the San Miguel Beermen in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

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San Miguel's June Mar Fajardo stands as Meralco's biggest problem ahead of their PBA Philippine Cup title series, with no player in the league able to single-handedly defend the 6-foot-10 behemoth

MANILA, Philippines – Containing San Miguel star big man June Mar Fajardo will be crucial as Meralco shoots for a breakthrough PBA title in its first finals appearance in the Philippine Cup.

Fajardo stands as the Bolts’ biggest problem, with no player in the league able to single-handedly defend the 6-foot-10 behemoth. 

“You cannot stop him. You have to give him different looks, you have to look at the tape on what you can take advantage [of],” said Meralco head coach Luigi Trillo during the finals press conference on Monday, June 3.

“[He is] probably the [greatest of all time] of the PBA. You could argue it is him or Ramon Fernandez.” 

A strong contender for a record-extending 10th Best Player of the Conference, Fajardo has been a dominant force as San Miguel lost just twice in the tournament going into the finals.

Fajardo averages 17.4 points, a league-leading 14.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.2 blocks through 17 games.

He imposed his will particularly in the playoffs, putting up 19.8 points, 15.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks as the Beermen survived Terrafirma in the quarterfinals and swept Rain or Shine in the semifinals.

But if there is a team that can put together an effective defensive plan against Fajardo, it is Meralco.

The Bolts have allowed their opponents to score just an average of 87 points this conference, tied for the lowest mark with Barangay Ginebra.

Also, Meralco has multiple big men to throw at Fajardo in the form of rookie Brandon Bates and veterans Raymond Almazan, Cliff Hodge, Kyle Pascual, and Norbert Torres. 

“Like I always say, you can never stop June Mar. The least we can do is limit him,” said Almazan. 

Locking up Fajardo, though, is just the first step.

Meralco also has to think about other San Miguel standouts CJ Perez, Don Trollano, Terrence Romeo, Marcio Lassiter, Jericho Cruz, Mo Tautuaa, and Chris Ross.

Still, Trillo has faith in his wards. 

“All around, it is not just June Mar. They’re a good team,” said Trillo. 

“We believe in our guys,” he added. “I personally believe that we have enough. It is not going to be easy. We’ve been practicing hard through a lot for the past few months.” – 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.