San Miguel Beer kicked off its PBA Governors Cup title-retention bid with a high-scoring 124-113 win over Phoenix on Sunday behind balik-import Arizona Reid’s fiery 41-point performance.
Lost in Reid’s hot-shooting night was 2-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo’s 21-point-11-rebound effort against the hapless Fuel Masters.
Alaska coach Alex Compton, who served as one of Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin’s assistant in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, is convinced that Fajardo is due for another dominating performance in the season-ending conference.
“Without question, he’s (Fajardo) unique in our league because it’s not like every team has a June Mar. There’s only one June Mar in the whole country,” Compton told FOX Sports, an interested spectator during SMB’s match against Phoenix.
Compton’s Aces dropped 96-100 decision to Meralco in the nightcap on Sunday.
The American coach noted that Fajardo’s experience playing against the likes of NBA veterans Andrea Bargnani and Danilo Galinari of Italy, Omer Asik of Turkey and France’s front court led by Boris Diaw, Joffrey Lauvergne and Florent Pietrus made the SMB big man a far better player.
“He’s not gonna be matching up against Omer Asik (in the PBA) and he’s not playing against systems that are constantly sprinting into ball screens and making him run up, run down and worried about fives, because some of the 5s (centers) shoot the ball really well (in Europe),” explained the 42-year-old Alaska mentor.
In Gilas’ 106-70 shellacking at the hands of Italy in a pocket tournament in Bologna, Compton said Filipino big men like Fajardo had to constantly chase Bargnani, a three-point specialist.
The soft-spoken Compton also mentioned that Fajardo also gained valuable experience banging bodies with foreign bigs like Asik during Gilas’ two practice games, as well as Diaw.
“When does June Mar have to guard a lights-out 3-point shooter like Bargnani (in the PBA)? It’s a different thing, so I think he got better during Gilas,” stressed Compton, whose team finished runner-up 3 times in the last 5 conferences behind San Miguel.
“He really improved which I loved for Gilas and hate for Alaska so I expect him to have another typical, dominating June Mar-type of season,” he added with a smile. – By Richard Dy
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