June Mar Fajardo was the top pick in the 2012 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Rookie draft. The 6’9″ giant from Pinamungahan, Cebu has been dubbed as the country’s future premier big man. The former University of Cebu Webmasters varsity star played first for the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) after an illustrious career at the CESAFI were he led UC in destroying University of the Visayas Green Lancers dynasty. After learning that Petron, one of San Miguel Corporation‘s teams in the PBA, had the first pick in the 2012 draft, June Mar immediately decided that it was time to take his skills to the PBA. As expected, he got drafted by the super loaded Petron team which has stars like Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, and Jay Washington, along with super sophomores in Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Lutz.
The expectations were so high far the vaunted Petron Blazer Boosters (PBB) team with the addition of the highly touted Cebuano. June Mar Fajardo had 9 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks in his season debut against recently crowned Governor’s Cup champs Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. His numbers were good but the Boosters lost by 16, 86-102. Fellow Cebuano Center and ex-Green Lancer JR Quinahan gave him a rough welcome by torching Fajardo with 13 points while having a perfect 3 for 3 in the 3-point region. Fajardo somehow was stunned as the center of RoS can hit the trey which forced him to defend the perimeter. Beau Belga, the tag team partner of Quinahan in RoS’ feared extra combo likewise hit 3 trifectas. It was big contrast to Fajardo who only made 2 of 7 in his attempts in the field while shooting just 5 of 11 in the 15-foot line.
In the next time game, Fajardo only played for 16 minutes in PBB’s victory over Barako Bull and he managed to grab 7 rebounds in limited action. June Mar had a monster game against sister team San Mig Coffee finishing with 16 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 blocked shot. It was a bittersweet performance as Petron lost again. It became worse as it was discovered after the game they had a bizarre injury in the scrotum after unintentionally hit by Marc Pingris. He was out of action for over a month. He came back in Petron’s victory over cellar dwellers Global Port by tallying 14 points and 7 rebounds. He played 3 more games in the eliminations and ended up with averages of 9 points, 8.14, 0.86 steal, 1.14 blocks in 24.6 minutes of action for the 7 games he played. Petron finished disappointing 6 wins and 8 loses in the eliminations which is only good for the 7th seed. They faced the second seeded San Mig Coffee Mixers that gets a twice to beat advantage.
In the quarterfinal game, Fajardo was the best Petron player as he finished with 22 points, 15 boards, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 3 blocks but PBB was eliminated 87-92. Many fans felt that Coach Olsen Racela did not give him enough touches especially in the final period. A lot of pundits think that June Mar Fajardo was underutilized.
The next two conferences in the PBA will be import-laced. Fajardo will be up against imports that could be bigger or taller than him in the Commissioner’s Cup. As he nicknamed the Kraken in the PBA, he expected to sow fear underneath the boards for Petron. He will be a player to watch as many fans would like to know if indeed he has the potential to dominate the league or he will just end up like the slow and unworthy big men of the past. If we are just looking at his upside, there has been no pure Filipino big man to be blessed with the height, heft, agility, and basketball iq of his caliber. If he plays to his potential he can average 20 points and 10 rebounds at the minimum even against imports. It will not happen immediately as he has to get accustomed to the PBA brand of play and he needs to possess intelligence to learn the intricacies of a pro-style offense and defense. If he does not cope, he could be like an EJ Feihl or worse a Samigue Eman. It will definitely be interesting to see how he pans out. It will also be exciting to see if how he and Greg Slaughter will match-up in the future. The two were the main protagonist of some of the most memorable battles in the CESAFI. If Fajardo and Slaughter end up to be the best big men in their generation, it is fun to know that they both started Cebu, an island known for their explosive guards rather dominating big men.
This blog’s writer will always be a big fan and a believer of June Mar. He could be the Hercules that will carry Petron to many battles ahead. Go, June Mar!!!
- Beermen eye revenge in ABL opening (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- PBA wRap: Petron and Ginebra on the rise (rappler.com)
- PBA quarterfinals: Talk ‘N Text vs Air21, SanMig Coffee vs Petron (rappler.com)
- Teams to parade ex-NBA players in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup (sports.inquirer.net)