June Mar Fajardo and San Miguel Beer are not letting go of the chance to reclaim the lost glory in the Philippine Cup – a territory they ruled with an iron hand in five straight seasons in the past.
Fajardo, who dropped 29 points and 14 rebounds in the series-clinching 100-89 win against Meralco, admitted that the Beermen got their hands full in the semifinals although that was exactly what they needed heading into a showdown against a formidable foe against TNT in the Finals
“Matagal na kami na di nakapasok sa finals. So credit din pala sa Meralco ang ganda ng game plan nila pero nanaig yung game plan ni pops (Coach Leo Austria). So nanalo kami, team effort talaga yung pinalabas namin,” said Fajardo who had solid contributions from his supporting cast including CJ Perez's 18 points and nine assists.
Marcio Lassiter, who added 16 points, also triggered the wire-to-wire win with three straight three-pointers in the first quarter to build a sizable margin before they fended off another furious rally from the Bolts in the final frame.
Fajardo said it will always take a collective effort to beat a good team like Meralco – something they must continue doing if they wish to take the all-Filipino crown they last held in the last of the "five-peat" in 2019.
“Kailangan lang namin magtulungan. Kailangan lang namin maglaro as a team. Kailangan lang namin sundin yung game plan namin. Maganda naman yung game plan namin eh, sa practiice maganda naman ginagawa namin so kailangan lang talaga i-execute sa game,” said the 6-foot-10 giant.
“Proud ako sa mga teammates ko, step up talaga lahat lalo na sa game na ito sana tuluy-tuloy hanggang sa finals. Alam naman natin sa finals na 'di ganun kadali na manalo ng championship pero gagawin namin ang lahat para makuha yung goal,” he added.
While elated with the series win against the Bolts, Austria wanted to keep their eyes on the big prize in hopes to cement their legacy in the PBA with another championship.
“We beat Meralco in seven games, that’s one thing but it's not yet finished because in a tournament, hindi kasi nakilala ang second place eh so kailangan nila manalo ng championship for them to have a legacy.”