Alaska, SMB begin series

In Photo: June Mar Fajardo (15) of San Miguel against JR Quinahan (48) of Rain or Shine.

SAN Miguel Beer’s (SMB) title defense starts on Sunday with June Mar Fajardo’s status on limbo, as the Beermen face Alaska in Game One of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Fajardo failed to finish Game Six of their semifinal series against Rain or Shine on Friday with San Miguel advancing to its 36th final apperace after their 90-82 win.

But the victory came with a prize as Fajardo, the reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the league, had to be carried out by stretcher after Elasto Painters’ Jireh Ibanes accidentally hit him at his left knee while boxing out the 6-foot-10 San Miguel center.

According to Beermen Team Manager Gee Abanilla, Fajardo’s PCL, or posterior cruciate ligate, and the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, were intact but the left knee was put on an immobilizer to prevent any damage.

“We’re not sure if he can play [in Game One] but the good news for June Mar is nabugbog lang ang tuhod niya,” Abanilla said.

San Miguel mentor Leo Austria admitted that losing Fajardo in the final series against the Aces will be a big blow for them to defend their All-Filipino crown. But he’s confident that other players can step up like what they did in Game Six against Rain or Shine.

Nariyan pa naman sina Yancy [de Ocampo], Jay-R [Reyes] to help the team pero malaking kawalan talaga si June Mar,” said Austria, who is eyeing his third PBA title.

“It’s hard to face Alaska especially with the kind of defense they are applying,” he added.

The Aces of Head Coach Alex Compton had a relatively easy semifinal series against GlobalPort, winning their own duel in five games to give them extra rest going to the best-of-seven championship series.

Alaska tries to avenge its finals loss to the same team last season in the same tournament that went to full distance.

“This is a different series. I believe last year’s defeat is over. San Miguel won and they deserved it,” Compton said. “This year, we need to take the lessons from last year and have a better performance.”

Image credits: Nonoy Lacza


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