June Mar Fajardo had finally recovered and is set to see action when the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) unwraps its 46th season this June.
San Miguel Beer head coach Leo Austria yesterday said the six-time PBA Most Valuable Player had fully recovered from a gruesome leg injury that sidelined him for more than a year.
He said Fajardo is making great strides in his recovery and is expected to fully regain his strength this month.
That’s why if the league would open in June, the 6-foot-10 slotman would definitely be available to patrol the paint for the Beermen, who are looking to regain the Philippine Cup title.
“Yes, he will definitely play this season. His expected timeline for playing was actually within May,” said Austria, adding that the extended lockdown had worked to Fajardo’s advantage since he was able to let his broken leg regain its strength.
“Even before the lockdown, he has been showing great improvement and has also been doing some workouts and court drills.”
But the road to recover wasn’t easy.
After suffering a tibia fracture in practice in February last year, Fajardo sat out the entire 2020 season that was held under a bubble setup in Clark. He was also forced to undergo a couple of surgeries and rehabilitation programs while the National Capital Region was under enhanced community quarantine.
His recovery suffered a blow when doctors required him to undergo another surgical procedure to clean the infection in his tibia last December.
Still, the gentle giant from Cebu remained optimistic and used the delay in the PBA opening to rehabilitate and strengthen his leg for the tough grind ahead.
He will be joining a San Miguel team that made tremendous improvement in the off-season.
The frontcourt rotation that features Moala Tautaa and Arwind Santos remains intact as well as the backcourt core of Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot and Terrence Romeo.
The addition of CJ Perez, however, turned the Beermen into a super team, putting the scoring cudgels off the shoulders of Fajardo.
Austria said he couldn’t wait to see his star player back on the court.
“Since there are no games yet, it looks like (the delay) gave him an advantage. He’s really doing his best on his individual workouts now,” Austria said.
“He is very eager to get back on the court. That’s why he was a bit frustrated when the lockdown was implemented.”