Following a courageous comeback in the middle of the series, June Mar Fajardo can now fully rest his left knee after helping the San Miguel Beermen in re-writing history with an epic comeback from 0-3 deficit to retain the prestigious PBA Philippine Cup title.
“You have to give it to June Mar. He’s still injured but he begged to be allowed to play, and he didn’t disappoint,” said a proud coach Leo Austria of his prized big man.
The reigning back-to-back MVP was only expected to suit up in Game 7 but he begged Austria to let him play starting in Game 5.
The gamble caught the Aces by surprise and it paid off handsomely for the Beermen as the momentum shifted to their side.
Fajardo, whose confidence grew each game since his return, proved to be a dominant force even at 80% strength.
The Cebuano big man anchored the Beermen’s breakaway in the 3rd quarter of the series finale and powered his way to 21 points and 15 rebounds in 29 minutes.
He had 13 points and 4 boards in 16 minutes in Game 5 and finished with 16 and 7 in 22 minutes in Game 6.
“Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that I got injured and we went down 0-3 because we ended up writing history,” Fajardo told reporters in Filipino after their 96-89 win in the series clincher on Wednesday night.
“God has really a plan for us.”
With the help of a special therapy and a pack of ice wrapped on his left knee every after game, Fajardo gallantly stood his ground to defend the crown.
“I didn’t mind the pain (of my inury) but after this I’m going to rest. I was told to rest for two to three weeks,” Fajardo said.
“I am grateful to our management for their support and trust. They never lost hope in us,” he added.
Fajardo is expected to be fully recovered when the Beermen start their Commissioner’s Cup campaign a week after February 19.