Facing the man who dropped a verbal jab to his fellow Cebuano giant, 2-time MVP June Mar Fajardo countered with some few but sharp words of his own after their first playoffs meeting in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“Pag tinawag mo yung isang ‘soft’, di ka naman lalakas nun,” said Fajardo a day after Rain or Shine’s import Pierre Henderson-Niles gave out the belittling statement on his Gilas frontcourt partner and Ginebra’s center Greg Slaughter.
The San Miguel slotman, in response, let the game do the talking as he outhustled Henderson-Niles, finishing with 23 points and 13 rebounds only to fail at the end as the Elasto Painters pulled off a stunner to take Game 1 of their best-of-5 semifinals series.
Despite an MVP-like performance on their loss, Fajardo, however, denied he wanted to prove something against the Memphis Tiger alum reinforcement.
“Basta ako, gusto kong manalo,” he said, visibly in his tip-top shape now. “Di naman one-on-one yan, five-on-five yan, kailangan lang talaga naming sundin yung gameplan ni coach.”
But for coach Leo Austria, he felt that Henderson-Niles’ provoking words stuck on his wards’ mental approach of the game that paved the way for RoS comeback win.
“It seems na nagwagi sila dun sa psy-war because they keep attacking on (Rain or Shine’s) import, especially si June Mar na parang ‘I have to prove it’,” said the multi-titled mentor. “It’s not between him and the import, the same with Tyler (Wilkerson).”
Fajardo looks to learn from their endgame miscues as they try to avoid a 0-2 hole come Game 2 in their series match-up.
“Normal lang yun sa game (na natatalo), bounce back na lang, best-of-5 naman eh,” Fajardo said. – By Jason Mercene
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