By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
After almost two months of being sidelined due to a throat injury, PBA’s only six-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) June Mar Fajardo is back on the hardwood.
Court rust was never an issue for the superstar center as the PBA multi-champion led the San Miguel Beermen against the Terrafirma Dyip in a convincing fashion, 131-103, on November 23, 2022 held at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Loud cheers and applause warmly welcomed the gentle giant as he made his way inside the scorer’s table when his number got called by the Beermen’s coaching staff.
It wasn’t a usual start for Fajardo as he adjusted a few of his attempts in the first quarter but picked his tempo up midway into the second frame and began operating in the shaded area.
Fajardo then capped off his SMB return with a couple of left-block fade-away shots before exiting the game with 20 big points and nine rebounds off the bench.
It was all San Miguel from the get-go after their backcourt quickly waxed hot from the three-point territory led by Jericho Cruz who already drained four treys with 10 minutes left in the second quarter.
After SMB’s offensive assault, there was nothing that Terrafirma could do to stop the bleeding and could only watch the men in red punish them on both ends of the floor.
Adding to Terrafirma’s in-game woes was the absence of their super import Lester Prosper who was ruled out due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
“We didn’t think that they weren’t import-less. So from the tip-off, we talked to one another and said we that we have to play 48 minutes of basketball,” said SMB’s assistant coach Jorge Gallent.
SMB’s import Devon Scott continued his all-around efficiency and filled the stat sheets with 21 points, 19 rebounds, and 11 assists.
Meanwhile, Cruz, who started the first half unconscious draining three-pointers at will, had 25 points and ended the night with a perfect 6/6 shooting from downtown.
Juami Tiongson led all scorers for Terrafirma and shot the lights out with 28 points while rising star Javi Gomez de Liaño chipped in 17 points.
With the win, the Beermen improved to a 5-5 win-loss record and will have the chance to finalize their playoff campaign if they take down rival squad TNT Tropang Giga this Saturday.