MANILA, Philippines – Coach Leo Austria admits that San Miguel’s confidence took a hit when he lost Mar Fajardo in June to a throat problem.
Understandable. After all, The Beermen are a mess and look disjointed without the Best Player six times during their title defense in the 2020 Philippine Cup.
“Mortal is a bit low because of June Mar (absent),” Austria told reporters in Filipino shortly afterwards. an attack 113-87 at the hands of the visiting Gulf Dragons at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“But I keep telling them we have to fight back and we have to be aggressive because we have nothing. [that we can do about it] except to try and win,” he continued.
Luckily for Austria and the Beermen, Fajardo is expected to return just in time before the knockout stages.
Fajardo, who broke his shin during the bubble convention in Clark, is now just recovering from throat surgery to address a laryngeal fissure he suffered during his clash with Rain or Shine last Thursday.
The gentle giants’ recovery is expected to take about four weeks, which is around the second week of November. By then, San Miguel still has four games left on the knockouts schedule.
Fajardo was discharged from the hospital and returned to “competing”, according to Austria.
“He was playing video games,” the animation mentor said with a chuckle.
Getting serious again, Austria say the club missed Fajardo’s ferocious combination with imported Diamond Stone.
“We’re really not used to playing without June Mar,” he said. “The players all felt his absence. Our plays are always related to June-March. “
The challenge now, according to Austria, is to hold the fortress until then. But that task becomes even more difficult when 1-1 San Miguel plays against four teams on a tight schedule.
“It’s been a tough task for us because starting next week we have four games in eight days,” he said of the round that will see the club face Converge, NLEX, NorthPort and then Meralco.
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