The absence of Cebuano big man June Mar Fajardo from the roster of the five-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen has raised questions regarding the vulnerability of their title defense.
After all, the behemoth from Pinamungahan averaged a double-double of 18.9 points and 13 rebounds to go with almost two assists and two blocks during the 2019 PBA season. However, the six-time Most Valuable Player award winner is currently sidelined and will not be seeing action in the upcoming restart of the Philippine Cup as he continues to recover from the leg injury he suffered earlier this year.
This development, as unfortunate as it is, has given hope to the rest of the field that perhaps the All-Filipino title could finally be wrested away from the grasp of the Beermen.
NLEX’s veteran mentor Yeng Guiao has his doubts about that, judging from the Beermen’s awesome performance during the opening game of the Philippine Cup last March. In the lone game played so far this season before the league postponed all games due to the health crisis, San Miguel dominated in a 94-78 win over Magnolia.
"They're saying June Mar is not playing and maybe San Miguel is vulnerable. But the way they played their first game, they didn't look as such," said Guiao in his recent appearance on The Link podcast.
Even without the 6-foot-10 giant, San Miguel head coach Leo Austria still has an impressive cadre of weapons that he can deploy led by former MVP Arwind Santos, veteran guards Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot, perimeter sniper Marcio Lassiter and scoring dynamo Terrence Romeo.
The Beermen has also bolstered their frontcourt with the acquisition of Moala Tautuaa who immediately showed what he can do, putting up 20 points and 11 rebounds against Magnolia.
"They're probably a lot quicker with more balanced scoring because they don't depend in June Mar a lot this time," Guiao added.
San Miguel’s first game in the PBA “bubble” will be on October 13 when they take on Rain or Shine. (JNP)