Fajardo goes under knife

San Miguel Beer slotman June Mar Fajardo underwent surgery after getting elbowed in the throat by import Steve Taylor during their game against Rain or Shine last Sunday in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.

Beermen head coach Leo Austria made the confirmation, saying that the six-time PBA Most Valuable Player awardee underwent surgery to repair a misaligned cartilage in his larynx on Thursday afternoon at The Medical City in Pasig City.

“I don’t know until when he will be out, but I’m sure he will miss a lot of games,” Austria told Daily Tribune in a telephone conversation.

“He’s having the procedure to make sure that there won’t be any complications in the future. He could skip the procedure if he wanted but you can never know what will happen in the future. We have to be very careful.”

Austria, however, refused to issue a timetable for Fajardo’s return although sideliners expect him to recover in the next four to six weeks following the medical procedure, including their crucial match against powerhouse Bay Area on Sunday.

“There’s no timeline for his return,” he said.

“He could start after a week with his cardio and lifting weights. It would all depend on his healing process.”

Fajardo’s injury is such a major blow to the Beermen’s title-retention campaign.

After missing the past two conferences due to a horrendous leg injury in 2020, the 6-foot-10 made a rousing return as he helped the Beermen clinch the Philippine Cup title.

Fajardo continues to do damage in this import-flavored conference as he fired 23 points and 16 rebounds in their opening game against Blackwater before registering 21 points and eight rebounds against Rain or Shine.

His role in the Beermen rotation was greatly needed as they lost a gem of an import in Thomas Robinson to injury few days before the start of the Commissioner’s Cup.

“Until now, we’re still trying to have some adjustments because since we had June Mar back, he was our go-to-guy. But now, we have to try something different,” Austria said, adding that import Diamond Stone has to step up to fill the giant void created by Fajardo’s absence.

Stone, a former National Basketball Association standout, had a forgettable debut but bounced back big-time, erupting for 42 points and 12 rebounds in their 113-105 win over the Elasto Painters.

“He has a responsibility to perform and this is the perfect opportunity for him. Without June Mar, he will have a bigger role in the team.”
Aside from Fajardo, also tipped to carry the fight for the Beermen in Fajardo’s absence are local stars Vic Manuel, Rodney Brondial and Mo Tautuaa.

“All of the big men should step up,” Austria added.

“I know it’s very tough since June Mar would always average double-double numbers but those big men who didn’t play in the last two games because of our import, I think they will get some playing time and I’m hoping they will step up and I think they know their roles.”

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