by Waylon Galvez
Since he entered the PBA last season as the top rookie pick of Petron Blaze, 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo has shown incredible patience despite the physicality of the game that usually see smaller defenders hacking or pushing him just to get an advantage.
However, Fajardo probably has had enough.
In a fit of rage, Fajardo, the leading Best Player of the Conference (BPC) candidate, retaliated in Game 2 of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals as he shoved and tried to charge at Rain or Shine’s Larry Rodriguez after the two jostled for position under the Boosters’ basket in the fourth quarter.
An angry Fajardo even pushed some of his teammates, including 6-foot-5 power forward Doug Kramer, who tried to pacify him when he was escorted back to the Petron bench. Fajardo and Rodriguez were assessed a technical foul each for second motion and trash talking.
After the game, Fajardo was apologetic.
“Napikon lang ako. Sobrang physical niya (Rodriguez) kaya biglang uminit ulo ko, kaya ‘yun,” said Fajardo as the Boosters lost, 103-94, to fall 0-2 in their best-of-seven series.
“Dapat maging kalma lang ba, ‘di pwedeng maging mainit `yung ulo, mahirap na.
Part ng game ‘yun (physicality). So wala na tayo magagawa doon, nangyari na. Mag-adjust na lang kami,” said the Cebu native who also had a skirmish in the second period with Rain or Shine rookie Raymond Almazan and Gilas Pilipinas teammate Beau Belga.
Fajardo, who finished with 20 points and nine rebounds, admitted that they lost focus after that incident with Rodriguez. Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said that playing physical is part of the game, and his team’s character embraces that.
“They were trying to play physical and June Mar really is the focal point of their offense and we have to play physical ourselves. There are three to four guys on him, so you have to be mentally into it which is more natural for us,” said Guiao.
The 6-foot-6 Belga, who mentored Fajardo when they trained with Gilas Pilipinas preparing for the FIBA Asia Championship here, said that they would continue to be a physical team until they win two more games.
“Kami naman kasi ‘yun ang style ng laro namin, kung physical ang gusto nila, ‘yun din ang ibibigay namin. Kami sanay naman kami sa physical na laro e, pero sa laro lang ‘yun. ‘Yung nangyari kay June Mar, dapat alam niya na part lang ng laro, wala naming personalan ‘yun,” said Belga.
Rain or Shine will try to keep its streak to 11 straight wins when it guns for a 3-0 lead when it tackles Petron anew in Game 3 of the series set tomorrow at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena. (Waylon Galvez)