PBA Philippine Cup

‘This is June Mar’s team’: San Miguel leans on Fajardo to draw first blood in semis

Delfin Dioquino

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‘This is June Mar’s team’: San Miguel leans on Fajardo to draw first blood in semis

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

PBA Images

Seven-time MVP June Mar Fajardo has asserted his offensive dominance after taking a backseat at the start of the PBA Philippine Cup

MANILA, Philippines – As the PBA Philippine Cup nears its end, San Miguel has been utilizing its most potent weapon to full effect.

The Beermen leaned on June Mar Fajardo anew as they drew first blood against Rain or Shine in their best-of-seven semifinals after a 101-98 escape at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, May 17.

Fajardo submitted his most efficient shooting performance of the conference, firing 23 points on a prolific 8-of-11 shooting (73%) to go with 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks.

“We have to take advantage of what we have. We have June Mar, so we have to take advantage of him and we have to evolve through him,” said San Miguel head coach Jorge Gallent.

The game marked the sixth consecutive time Fajardo reached the 20-point plateau as the seven-time league MVP asserted his offensive dominance after taking a backseat at the start of the conference.

In contrast, Fajardo scored at least 20 points just once in their first eight games of the tournament – a stretch that saw him average 14.0 points.

Since then, Fajardo churned out 22.2 points in the last six games on top of a whopping 17.5 rebounds.

“This is June Mar’s team,” said Gallent. “June Mar is a big factor in this team. He helps his teammates get better.”

With Fajardo attracting the defense, four more Beermen players scored in double figures in Game 1 – Don Trollano, Marcio Lassiter, CJ Perez, and Terrence Romeo.

Trollano put up 17 points and 6 rebounds, including the layup with under three minutes left that gave San Miguel a 101-95 lead – a cushion big enough to ward off the Elasto Painters’ last-ditch comeback.

Lassiter fired 16 points on 4-of-6 clip from behind the arc, Romeo added 14 points, while CJ Perez finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Mo Tautuaa chimed in 7 points and 11 rebounds for the defending champions.

Gian Mamuyac delivered 20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals to pace Rain or Shine, which missed out on sending the game to overtime as Andrei Caracut missed his game-tying three-pointer in the dying seconds.

The Elasto Painters held San Miguel scoreless in the final 2:20 minutes but still fell short.

Beau Belga bounced back from three straight games of being held to single-digit scoring with 17 points, while Jhonard Clarito and Santi Santillan contributed 13 points each in the loss.

The Scores

San Miguel 101 – Fajardo 23, Trollano 17, Lassiter 16, Romeo 14, Perez 13, Tautuaa 7, Brondial 6, Teng 3, Cruz 2, Ross 0, Enciso 0.

Rain or Shine 98 – Mamuyac 20, Belga 17, Clarito 13, Santillan 13, Caracut 9, Demusis 6, Datu 6, Borboran 5, Ildefonso 4, Asistio 3, Norwood 2, Nocum 0, Peredes 0

Quarters: 31-24, 49-44, 82-78, 101-98.

– 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.