The performance he had during the first two conferences of the season, and to the kind of game June Mar Fajardo of Petron Blaze is dishing out in the ongoing PBA Governors’ Cup Finals showdown, it’s hard not to recognize his improvements.
He improved by leaps and bounds.
“Ang laki talaga ng improvement ni June Mar, nado-dominate n’ya yung shaded lane,” said San Mig Coffee’s 6-foot-5 forward Marc Pingris, who had to defend his taller and heftier Gilas Pilipinas teammate at times.
“Noong Philippine Cup, medyo natutulak ko pa si June Mar e, pero ngayon iba na, medyo mahirap na,” added Pingris.
Fajardo, a former University of Cebu standout, was selected No. 1 overall by the Boosters in the PBA Rookie Draft last year, but after a few games he was sidelined due to an injured scrotum. He finished the Philippine Cup with an average of 10.6 points and nine rebounds.
In the Commissioner’s Cup, Fajardo’s he tallied 10.4 points average and 7.1 rebounds.
Rain or Shine’s 6-foot-6 center Beau Belga, tasked to guard the 23-year-old Fajardo in the semifinals of the Governors’ Cup, said that their Gilas Pilipinas stint was one of the reasons that helped the Cebuano native improve.
“Mas alam na n’ya nagyon kung paano gamitin ‘yung size n’ya. Kasi hindi lang matangkad si June Mar, talagang solid yung katawan. Kasi kahit ako masasabi ko na hirap din sa kanya pagdating sa banggaan e,” said Belga.
“Before nung first two conferences, kapag binangga mo s’ya hindi lalaban ‘yan. Pero ngayon, hindi naman sa gumaganti s’ya kapag binangga, pero mas alam na n’ya kung paano niya magagamit yung size advantage niya. So maski banggain mahirap,” added Belga.
Fajardo increased his numbers from the elimination round, to the semifinal stage and in the finals, reason why he was able to contend for the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) and made it to the Top 10 in the overall stats this season.
In the eliminations, Fajardo normed only 9.3 points (5th in the team), with 8.6 rebounds and 2.0 shot blocks, although his scoring jumped to 14.8 points (3rd in the team) in the Final Four against Rain or Shine with 12.5 rebounds (1st in the team) and 1.5 shot blocks (tied with Arwind Santos.
Fajardo had 20 points and eight boards in a 101-94 quarterfinal win versus Barangay Ginebra.
In the ongoing finals against San Mig Coffee, Fajardo continued to improve as he averaged 15.6 points and 10.3 rebounds as he held his ground against Pingris and the other frontline players of the Mixers like Rafi Reavis and Yancy de Ocampo.
In Game 1 of the championship, Fajardo had best play of the game when he got the ball right in the middle of the lane, dribbled once then soared for a tomahawk dunk that posterized San Mig import Marqus Blakely.