Fajardo sets sights on grand slam


June Mar Fajardo has accomplished a lot of things in 2017—from winning his fourth straight Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to being one of the vital cogs of Gilas Pilipinas.

The San Miguel Beer center joined the ranks of PBA legends Mon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio as four-time winners of the MVP trophy in the history of the league.

But if there’s one thing that Fajardo wanted to achieve next year is winning the grand slam, something that eluded the Beermen last season after they’ve won the first two conferences.

“It will always be there (goal of winning the grand slam). But we will take it one conference at a time because we know we need to work hard for every championship. We have to stay positive in 2018,” Fajardo told The Manila Times on Sunday in Filipino.

SMB’s June Mar Fajardo executes a layup as teammate Chris Ross looks on. PBA MEDIA BUREAU PHOTO

San Miguel started the current Philippine Cup with back-to-back wins and Fajardo said their goal right now is to defend the All-Filipino crown and win it for the fourth straight time.

“It is not impossible but it won’t be easy. We have to work harder,” added Fajardo, citing Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, TNT KaTropa and Magnolia as potential threats to their crown.

Fajardo averaged 24.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in their first two wins against Phoenix (104-96) and Meralco (103-97).

And the Beermen are doing it without their top pick Christian Standhardinger, who will only be available in the Commissioner’s Cup.

Besides defending their Philippine Cup title, the Cebuano slotman also vowed to have a more active participation in Gilas Pilipinas, which is competing in the home-and-away qualifiers for the 2019 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup in China.

The 28-year old Fajardo suited up for Gilas 5 when it won the 2017 Southeast Asia Basketball Championship here in Manila and played in the FIBA Asia Cup last August in Lebanon.

In the World Cup qualifiers, Fajardo had a stellar performance in Gilas’ wins over Japan and Taiwan to end the first window with an unblemished 2-0 slate.

Fajardo is looking forward to facing the also unbeaten Australia on February 22 in Melbourne at the start of the second window of the home-and-away qualifiers.

The Beermen are currently on a break and will resume practice on Wednesday as they prepare for a big match against KaTropa on January 13 in Iloilo City.


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