To the eyes of Arwind Santos and Chris Tiu, Petron rookie June Mar Fajardo is not just another big man.
“He’s the future of Philippine basketball,” Santos told InterAKTV. “Konting hasa na lang yan. Tuturuan na lang namin kung paano mangagat at lalong tumapang.”
The 6-foot-10, 22-year-old top overall rookie pick of Petron impressed a lot of people in his first tuneup game as he knocked down 17 points.
“He has size, strength and skills. Potent combination,” said Tiu. “He will be the future of Philippine basketball and it would be good if we will see him playing for the national team in the future because his level of play is a fit for international caliber.”
Tiu sees Fajardo developing under the tutelage of former SMART-Gilas Pilipinas coach Rajko Toroman, who acts as consultant for the Boosters.
“He looks like a good fit as well to the system of coach Rajko in Petron. He will be useful in the screen and roll. All you have to do is dump him the ball inside.”
Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood believes Fajardo will make a splash right in his rookie season.
“Definitely, he will make an impact and he will be an important piece for Petron, which is rebuilding for the future,” said Norwood.
Against the Elasto Painters, Fajardo had to do battle with Rain or Shine’s notoriously physical Extra Rice Incorporated tandem of JR Quinahan and Beau Belga, who both came away impressed by the rookie’s combination of strength and skills.
“Malaki siya, kaya nahirapan kami, tapos may shooting pa,” said Quinahan.
Belga did everything to neutralize the height advantage of Fajardo and had some success by keeping him out of his comfort zone. Still, the rookie found ways to get his points.
“Malaki siya sa amin and hindi rin ganun kadali itulak, pero may potential talaga siya. Bata pa naman siya,” said Belga.
Rain or Shine power forward Larry Rodriguez found himself matched up against Fajardo on several occasions and had to give up a duty foul to contain the big man.
“Sa switching of defense, natatapat siya sa akin. Syempre malaki siya, so hindi mo ma-challenge ng harapan, kaya kailangan mo na ring i-foul. Pero kaya naman tapatan ngh team defense,” said Rodriguez.
» Renaldo Balkman meltdown torpedoed Commissioner’s Cup campaign, admit Petron players
» Frustrated by Petron’s early exit, Jay Washington complains about lack of playing time
» Local Tropang Texters star anew as Talk ‘N Text eliminates Petron