PBA Philippine Cup

Austria glad Fajardo slowly returning to happy self amid PBA restart

JR Isaga
Austria glad Fajardo slowly returning to happy self amid PBA restart

RECOVERING. San Miguel star June Mar Fajardo draws support from his teammates.

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‘I'm happy for him dahil after a few days na magkakasama kami rito… that was the time na nakita ko uli si June Mar tumawa,’ says San Miguel coach Leo Austria

By his usual standards, San Miguel’s prized center June Mar Fajardo is still nowhere near the dominant, MVP-level force he once was prior to his lengthy leg injury.

But after everything that has happened to the Beermen’s gentle giant, both physically and mentally, no amount of stats really matter at this point, and the team is just glad he actually joined them in Pampanga for the 2021 Philippine Cup restart in the first place.

Back in early August, just as Fajardo was getting his on-court groove back, he suffered a major emotional blow after his mother passed away back in his hometown in Cebu.

Within just two weeks, the proud “mama’s boy” shelved his grief, quietly got back to work, and made his Pampanga debut last September 1 as if nothing was off.

Ever since nangyari ‘yung incident na ‘yun, talagang lahat ng mga teammate niya, management, kaibigan, full support para sa kanya. Natutuwa ako dahil sumama siya dito sa bubble,” said head coach Leo Austria after an 83-67 wire-to-wire win against the once-undefeated TNT Tropang Giga on Wednesday, September 8.

I’m happy for him dahil after a few days na magkakasama kami rito, with the help of his teammates, nagkaroon kami ng get-together, and that was the time na nakita ko uli si June Mar tumawa.”

(Ever since that incident, his teammates, team management, and friends, fully supported him. I’m happy because he joined us here in the bubble. I’m happy for him because after a few days, we had a get-together with the help of his teammates, and that was the time where I saw June Mar laugh again.)

Fajardo, the reigning six-time MVP, has continued deferring his scoring touches to his talented teammates, and finished Wednesday’s blowout with just 8 points on 3-of-5 shooting in 32 minutes, albeit with 17 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and a block.

In six games so far, the 31-year-old anchor is averaging a modest 11.5 points, 10.3 boards, and 1.3 blocks on 49% shooting with just 8.8 shot attempts.

But again, none of those numbers matter that much for Austria and the Beermen, who have all rallied around their hurting leader as he goes through painful times.

“You can really see that slowly, he’s getting back to his physical conditioning, and the most important thing is the mental [state]. But I know it’s not that easy,” Austria continued.

“But the whole team, the management, especially [Ramon Ang], just keep on supporting each and every one of the players, especially after what happened with June Mar.”

The Beermen are currently near the top of the conference standings with a 4-2 record, and will certainly appreciate any help they can get from Fajardo moving forward, no matter how small or big. – Rappler.com

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