MANILA, Philippines – June Mar Fajardo’s participation in the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup best-of-7 finals is still up in the air after the conclusion of Game 1.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria shed some light on the status of the injured cager, saying he is on a day-to-day basis for the series. Austria added that while he was told Fajardo will return in time, it’s unclear when the 6-foot-10 center will be able to play.
“According to the doctor, he will be back in the series but I don’t know when,” Austria said in a mix of English and Filipino after San Miguel yielded Game 1 to Alaska, 100-91, Sunday, January 17.
“My latest understanding of his situation, sometimes the swelling is there and then it comes and goes. That means something is wrong. They told me it’s not serious. No need for any surgery. He’ll be on a day-to-day basis.”
The reigning back-to-back MVP stayed home for Game 1 as he could barely even walk earlier in the day, according to Austria.
“I talked to him this morning and he said he could hardly walk because he doesn’t want his knee to get more swollen. He wants to be back,” Austria said.
“I told him don’t force it because what’s important to me is his health. Whatever happens, win or lose, whether he’s there or not, what’s important is his speedy recovery.”
A statement from team manager Gee Abanilla on Saturday, January 16, said Fajardo’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) remain intact and the team is “confident” about the big man’s chances of playing in the PBA Finals.
But Fajardo’s status has been shrouded in uncertainty over the weekend amid conflicting reports saying there is a partial tear in his ACL.
“After the MRI what was seen is his ACL and PCL are intact but there’s a contusion. What they want to get rid of is the swelling,” Austria explained. “The doctor, Dr (Raul) Canlas, said he will be okay. No need for any surgery.
“Actually he told me let’s see if he can play on Tuesday (Game 2) and I told him if he’s (Fajardo) not 100% I don’t want him to play because I don’t want to aggravate his injuries. Maybe for Friday (Game 3) we’re hoping, but we don’t know yet.”
Though a close Game 1 and the fact San Miguel almost won did not quite betray how much they missed Fajardo, statistics show the Beermen were severely handicapped in rebounding, 48-28.
Those 28 rebounds of San Miguel are a record low, according to statistician Fidel Mangonon III, in the PBA Finals and for the franchise. The defending champions lost Fajardo’s 14.9 rebounding average.
Austria admitted San Miguel also lost out big in second chance points, 23-4, as Alaska collared 20 offensive rebounds.