Out for more than a year, Fajardo struggles in first game back

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June Mar Fajardo experiences a lot of birth pains returning to active duty and fails to save Beermen against the Bolts. —PHOTO COURTESY OF PBA IMAGES

San Miguel Beer cornerstone June Mar Fajardo played his first Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) game on Sunday to end a forced spell that started in February last year because of a shinbone injury.

The league’s only six-time Most Valuable Player checked in late in the first period and his first attempt was a fadeaway jumper launched far off his natural habitat in the post.

He also muffed his next three looks, finally hitting his target only in the third quarter, when San Miguel was already neck-deep on trying to retake the lead.

It wasn’t the rosiest of comebacks, especially for a player who has long been the face of the league.

But Fajardo knew there was little chance that he’d pick up where he left off.

“I couldn’t say that I’m a hundred percent,” he told SportsIQ.

“But I do have confidence in myself that I can now play,” he added.

Fajardo wound up with just five points, five rebounds and an assist in a 93-87 loss to Meralco, not bad considering that he was out for more than a year and that he hasn’t had any tuneup game to speak off coming back.

But Meralco’s Norman Black knows that it will just be a matter of time before Fajardo and the rest of the Beermen rediscover their groove and flaunt that fearsome form once again with the 6-foot-11 behemoth leading them.

This should also explain the way Black’s big men defended Fajardo with a lot of respect—as if he was never injured at all.

And as far as Fajardo is concerned, he’s committed to working toward that goal.

“Conditioning has been well. Although I know I’m far from [the best shape],” he said. “But I’m doing everything to catch up. I really have to.” INQ

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