Playing time dilemma at coaches’ hands as Fajardo, Romeo rejoin stacked SMB

Published November 24, 2022, 3:35 PM

by Reynald I. Magallon

The once mighty San Miguel Beer is now nearing its full strength with the return of June Mar Fajardo and Terrence Romeo – both of whom were sidelined by injuries in the past few months.

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It was perfectly in time for the Beermen’s final push for a spot in the playoffs and keep their title retention bid on track although it also poses some questions on how head coach Leo Austria and his coaching staff will distribute the minutes among the players in SMB’s stacked lineup.

After all, the return of Romeo could mean he’ll be taking away some minutes from Jericho Cruz, Simon Enciso, Chris Ross, CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter in the regular guard rotation while Fajardo will be sharing time on the floor with Vic Manuel, Rodney Brondial, Mo Tautuaa and import Devon Scott.

The Beermen though were hardly concerned with such a dilemma as they see the return of the two as a huge boost to their team and that they are leaving the decision to their coaches.

“Para sa akin gagaan na yung trabaho namin kasi nandyan na si Terrence, nandyan na si June Mar, so it’s up to the coaches na lang na ibalance yung playing time namin nandyan naman sina coach Jorge sina coach Leo, sila na bahala sa ganun,” said Cruz.

Cruz, for his part, proved that he can thrive with a supporting role, finishing with 25 points on a 6-of-6 clip from deep in just 22 minutes of play in the SMB’s 131-103 rout of Terrafirma.

“Ako overall happy ako na nakabalik si Terrence kasi Terrence is Terrence eh. He’s a big asset to our team so I’m just looking forward to playing with him again,” Cruz said of the flamboyant guard who was out with a back injury for eight months.

Romeo was in uniform against the Dyip but was not fielded. Assistant coach Jorge Gallent, later on revealed that Romeo actually begged off.

“Terrence didn’t want to play. I wanted him to go inside at least to feel the game, but he said maybe next game. As of now, I was forcing him to go inside but he really didn’t want to,” added Gallent who has been taking the coaching helm as head coach Leo Austria is still under health and safety protocol

Fajardo, on the other hand, didn’t look like he was sidelined by nearly a month as he was in his dominant form upon his return scoring 20 points while still in minutes restriction.

“June Mar is always great. June Mar has been practicing (since) two weeks ago. We are just waiting for the doctors’ advice that he could play in the game. But in practice, he still dominates,” said the SMB assistant.