San Miguel main man June Mar Fajardo went down with a complete fracture on his right tibia during team practice last February 3 and has been ruled out of the season-opening Philippine Cup which kicks off on March 1 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Aside from the Beermen’s streak of 5 straight All-Filipino titles, also in danger of being snapped are the 30-year old Cebuano’s records of 6 straight Philippine Cup Best Player of the Conference awards and 5 straight season Most Valuable Player accolades.
Despite the impending absence of the team’s premier star, SMB coach Leo Austria refuses to be cowed and instead sees the current situation as a potential source of motivation for the team moving forward.
“Noong umpisa medyo mababa ang morale pero next few hours, tumaas ulit. Medyo na-inspire sila, parang ‘let’s do this for June Mar’, he helped us a lot in winning the (previous) championship,” said Austria.
“It’s really hard for us because in the past five years, alam naman natin na cornerstone si June Mar, he helped us a lot in winning championships. Pero gaya ng sinabi ko sa team, San Miguel is not June Mar and everybody must step up,” added the multi-titled mentor.
With the 6-foot-10 gentle giant already out of the equation, Austria is hoping the team can acquire a big man who can plug the temporary hole in the middle.
“Kung may makukuha kami. Right now, we’re trying to figure it out, maghanap kung sinong pwedeng pang backup.”