San Miguel Beer center June Mar Fajardo said his left knee is fine and feels no pain after surprising many when he finally played in Game 5 of the championship series versus Alaska in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fajardo, the reigning back-to-back MVP, missed the first four games of the finals because of a swollen knee after twisting it in Game 6 of the semifinals series against Rain or Shine almost half a month back.
A day before Game 5, he revealed that he will be in uniform but refused to say whether he will play or not. A few hours before tip-off, the 6-10 Fajardo started to warm up as he joined teammates on the pre-game shooting, just smiling on queries if he will play.
The moment SMB fans were waiting – and even the Alaska faithful – came when Fajardo – the Best Player of the Conference – checked in with 56.3 seconds left in the first period.
The player known as the ‘Kraken’ quickly made his presence felt when he buried a fade away jump shot over a smaller Noy Baclao of Alaska to the delight of fans and his teammates.
“Desisyon ko na pumasok sa game. Nag-sabi ako kay coach Leo (Austria) na kaya naman,” said Fajardo, who finished with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 5-of-10 from the foul line while adding four rebounds in nearly 17 minutes of action.
“Siyempre finals na e, gusto ko talaga maka-laro. Pero i-manage ko lang yung minutes ko. Sabi ko kay coach kapag may sumakit, magpapa-sub ako. So far ok naman, wala namang masakit,” added Fajardo.
San Miguel went on to win the game, scoring another overtime victory 86-73 which trimmed Alaska’s lead in the best-of-seven finals series 2-3. Game 6 is set today at the Araneta Coliseum.
Game 7, if necessary, will be played on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
Prior to the game, Austria said the team’s physical therapists Gerald Tenorio and Ed Bacason evaluated Fajardo.
“May pinagawa sa kanya yung mga PT ng team e, na dapat umabot yung paa nya (heel part) sa likod na naka-bend yung tuhod. Nagawa naman nya without pain so dun kami nag-decide na pwede siya lumaro,” said Austria.