June Mar Fajardo is set to return from a 3-game absence, but San Miguel coach Leo Austria would rather focus on breaking the 2-time PBA MVP slowly as the Beermen face Barangay Ginebra in a titanic Commissioner’s Cup battle on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo is coming off a right knee injury he sustained 3 weeks ago in San Miguel’s loss to Rain or Shine.
But after regular rehab and strengthening, Fajardo was given the green light to play, thus giving the Beermen a reliable post threat against the Kings’ “Twin Towers” Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar.
“For the first time this conference, kumpleto kami lahat dahil babalik na sila June Mar, Arwind (Santos) and Ronald (Tubid),” said a beaming Austria after the team’s practice on Saturday.
Austria mentioned that Fajardo and Santos’s minutes will depend on the situation. He added that both San Miguel stars will come off the bench.
“I’m optimistic na maganda Ang ipapakita nila sa laro pero they will both come off the bench para mabigyan ng kumpiyansa yung 2nd group na nagtrabaho when they were not around,” said the 3-time PBA champion coach, referring to back up bigs JR Reyes and Gabby Espinas.
The 6-foot-4 Santos missed San Miguel’s Easter Sunday victory over the Star Hotshots, 117-98 following the death of his mother Cel.
A win by the Beermen (5-2) will assure them of a quarterfinal spot.
The Kings, currently tied in the middle with 3 other teams at 5-4, are coming off a 107-92 beating at the hands of defending champion Tropang TNT. — By Richard Dy